I couldn’t help but notice your hole…

The offending hole...looks smaller here than IRL

When I first graduated from University and got my first job (not counting the cat dungeon I had a short stint of getting paid to email friends  employment at a “film company” overrun by cats), I was thrilled to be able to dress up for work. I went shopping with my partner and moaned as she forced me to try things on. But I was secretly happy about wearing pants that weren’t jeans and shirts that needed ironing.

What was I thinking?!

Fast forward a few years and now I’m working at a not-for-profit and most days, I think my coworkers should consider themselves lucky that I don’t just roll out of bed and show up to work in my jammies. But even I have standards, folks. I usually wear clothing without stains, that is less than 10 years old and (generally) presentable. But not today. As I do every Wednesday, I woke up thinking today was Friday. Upon my discovery that I was wrong once again, I lurched out of bed, showered groggily and threw on the closest pair of pants I could find.

If the chilly draft I’d felt and the leers from old men on the subway weren’t enough, it was the once-over and “hairs on the back of your nape standing up” glare from the President of the organization that clued me into the fact that my jeans, in fact, had a giant, gaping hole in the thigh. And not 5 minutes later, my boss approached me. In an unusually congenial mood she quipped, “Nice jeans!”. Naïve me thought – for a brief split second – that she was referring to my genes. Friends,  I was almost flattered! And then I remembered, my jeans had a hole the size of the giant sinkhole in Guatemala on them.

The best part about wearing these jeans, though, was the comment I got from a male coworker at a staff party today. “I couldn’t help but notice your hole,” he stated rather loudly. Upon hearing this, one of my coworkers – who hadn’t yet had the horror of seeing my shockingly white thigh showing itself – whipped her head around faster than that little girl in “The Exorcist” and looked like a deer caught in headlights. It was priceless –she thought he was hitting on me.

I won’t ever wear these jeans to work again. Unless they’re the closest pair of pants within my reach next Friday  Wednesday.

How not to start your Monday mornings….

 ….don’t zip around your apartment thinking you’re on time for once and gloat inwardly. Why? Because then this will happen:

You’ll begin to bike down the street, hit a bump and your travel coffee mug will proceed to fly out of your hands. After it takes its first (and last) flight, it slams into the concrete sidewalk, shatters and spills your beloved liquid gold (brown?) all over said sidewalk.
While you’re still recovering from the loss of the nectar of the gods for your subway ride into hell (otherwise known as “work), you’ll bend over to pick up the remaining shards of plastic of your travel mug, only for your 5th (and thus very precious) iPhone to fall out of your pocket, falling onto the same cursed concrete and shattering the glass in a corner.
With no time to weep loudly like you want to, you’ll pick up your phone, leave the pieces of your belongings behind on the devil’s walkway, shove your battered phone back into your pocket, and then almost get hit by a big delivery truck not paying attention to the road.
So, yup. It’s Monday morning here in Chancy-land, and I couldn’t be more miserable.

A weekend with teenagers ain’t for the faint of heart

I recently had the (dis) pleasure of hosting 3 teenagers in my home for a period of 4 days. One of those teenagers just happens to be my (much) younger sister, which is the only reason any of them got out alive. To say the days we spent together were an exercise in patience would be a gross understatement. The truth is, every minute that ticked by on the clock proved to be another test for my patience level. Turns out I really do have the patience of a saint.

The high (low?) lights of the weekend included:

  • Coming home from running an errand to find a naked teenage boy lying in my bathtub in the pitch dark. At 7:30 pm.
  • Hearing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass”. Over. And over. And over. And over again
  • Listening to said teenagers screaming all of the lyrics to said song.
  • Playing chauffer and wanting to die of embarrassment as rap music was blared from the speakers. Note to self:  Begging teenagers to “turn it down” simply does not work. And it makes you sound like your mother. 
  • Watching teenagers guzzle flavored vodka as if it were water. Okay, I participated too. Don’t judge, it was the only way I knew to retain my sanity. 

Lessons learned over the course of the 4-day “How much bullshit can you tolerate” workshop included:

  • Don’t ever ask a teenager to do the dishes for you unless you want to hear foot stomping & constant sighing, coupled with eyes being rolled at you repeatedly.
  • Teenagers have no “filter” and will therefore tell your middle-aged waitress she is “hot”, kiss old men passing by and wear nothing but their bikinis on a busy street.  Then they will wonder why everyone is staring. No joke. 
  • Every single thing you do is a photo opportunity, including spending time on the toilet.
  • The only poses acceptable in photos are throwing up the “peace” sign or making a pouty-face with your lips. Bonus points if you do both at the same time. 
  • Clothes are meant to be thrown on the floor and never, ever picked up.

Broke a glass @ nice restaurant? NBD.

At one point over the course of their visit, I texted my mom and said, “I understand why babies are so adorable. It’s to ensure you fall in love with them enough that you do them no harm when they become teenagers.”

When they finally left to return to their lives of sleeping in, inhaling all food within a 5 mile radius and taking breaks from text messaging to sass their parents, I breathed a sigh of relief. But then, for a brief moment, I almost missed the sight of 3 teenagers Facebook creepin’ while sprawled out all over my couch. On second thought…no I didn’t.

How to tell when someone loves you

Photo credit: {peace&love♥} on flickr

How can you tell when someone loves you?  I’ve spent some time thinking about this topic and have noticed there are some pretty obvious signs – signs that people don’t talk about & research doesn’t point to – that indicate someone loves you. I’m not talking about the way he points his knees towards you when you’re sitting on the couch together or the way she touches her neck when she laughs at something you’ve said (and harder than she needed to laugh). Nope. Not those things.

These things.

How to tell when someone loves you

–       They wipe the crumbs from your chin after you’ve been eating. Ever have that moment at a dinner table when you’re talking to a group of friends and someone lovingly brushes your chin in a nanosecond, so quickly no one else blinks an eye? That person wouldn’t want you to be embarrassed in front of others, so they instinctively (and without hesitation) wipe it off for you. That’s love.

–       You can sit in silence without feeling weird. My Mom always said that if you find someone with whom you can sit in the quiet and not feel awkward, you should hang onto that person. When you can clean your apartment, run errands or watch crappy television with someone and not feel like you need to fill every silent moment with words, that’s love.

–       They want you to be happy: even when it doesn’t involve them. Most people will say they want you to be happy, but they mostly mean that when your happiness helps make them happy, too. When someone loves you, they want for your happiness all of the time – not just when it’s going to benefit them on some level. When this person just lost their job on the same day you landed your dream job and they can still be happy for you, that’s love. When they have to sacrifice something to make you happy – and they do it willingly – that’s love.

–       They take care of you when you’re sick. ‘Nuff said. Most friends will feign sympathy (or maybe it’ll even be real) when you’re puking your guts out or are stricken with a nasty virus, but the ones who love you will offer to bring you provisions (Nyquil, soup, Jack Daniels) and stroke your hair while beads of sweat form on your forehead. That’s love.

–       They see movies you want to see with an actor they abhor, just because you want to see it. That’s love.

–       They pick your eyelashes from your cheek and don’t feel weirded out about touching your face or a fallen eyelash that belonged to you. Then they tell you to make a wish. That’s love.

–       They listen to you talk about your pet for 10 minutes straight without zoning out or thinking, “This person is nuts”. Love!

–       They call you on your bullshit, want you to be a better person– and love you anyway. Love, love, love.

–       They feel your sadness when you’re upset about something. Sometimes they cry with you. Sometimes they offer solutions. Whatever they do, they always know the appropriate response for each situation.  That’s love.

Definition of love

When someone rubs your back just for the sake of rubbing it, waters your plants while you are away, cares about your childhood memories and photographs, knows exactly what you’re going to order at the restaurant, grabs your hand under the table to give it a squeeze, doesn’t care about how much money you make, knows your boss’ (and coworkers’) names, beams with pride when you do something well – that is love.

If you love someone…tell them. We are here to experience love: to give it, get it and share it. Just love.

What does love mean to you? How do you know when someone loves you? 

High Park – nature’s refuge in an urban jungle

Old man with a long beard -- in a tree

In University I met my dear friend, Kathy. Aside from teaching me how to speak some phrases in Persian (which came in handy when dating a Persian woman!), she’s shown me that you really can just see someone a couple of times a year and feel “at home” with them. Kathy and I knew we would be friends from the moment we laid eyes on each other. It’s like a love story — a platonic love story. After graduation from University we no longer see each other as much as we used to, but when we meet up it’s like no time has passed at all.

Earlier this month, Kathy and I met up for our annual stroll through High Park, Toronto’s largest public park right smack dab in the middle of the city. This place is what the entire city would be were it not for the 3 million people who live here. It’s got hiking trails, sports facilities, playgrounds, a dog park, squirrels and other creatures who call it home. It’s gorgeous and it makes me love this city. These pictures tell you why.

Feeling peaceful

Bonus: I introduced Kathy to geocaching while we were out for our annual High Park stroll. She found her first cache! Curious about geocaching? It’s as geeky as it sounds, but hella fun.

Perty, ain't they?

Desk decor

Working for a not-for-profit doesn’t bring you many “perks” in the way of financial bonuses, free food or pay. But when said not-for-profit holds a fundraiser and can’t give things away as prizes – because no one will take it – the employees reap the benefits.

Check out my new desk decor. It’s so classy it hurts. Literally, if you fall on top of it. My co-worker says that people are going to stop approaching me to ask me for things, because this thing is going to scare them off. If that happens, mission accomplished.

Desk decor

Question: is this an elk or an antelope or some weird amalgamation of the two?

Question #2: What should I name it?

Dog dementia is for the birds

Don't let the face fool you: he's anything but innocent

If you know me, you know I love my dog. Caring for Chester has been a practice in parenting for me and Sarah (we share custody). Yep that’s right, the person who used to scoff at people who would include their dog’s names on the family Christmas cards is now comparing having a dog to parenting.

Through the Eyes of a Dog – an article I wrote for The Daily Awe – sums Chester up in a nut-shell. But the Chester we know and love is changing. At almost 9-years of age, he is now considered to be a “senior” and is aging rapidly. He’s had white “eyebrows” for quite some time now, but only recently the effects of his aging have shown themselves in other ways beyond a whitened brow.

Chester has dementia. A disease I thought was reserved for humans can, in fact, affect our canine companions. Dog dementia isn’t nearly as funny as it sounds. Chester’s sleeping patterns have been disrupted: he no longer sleeps through the night and lately he doesn’t like to sleep in bed with either of his Mammies. For a dog who ordinarily doesn’t leave our sides, this is so out of character. Formerly house trained, he’s now taken to using the living room as his personal toilet. This isn’t something “normal” Chester would do — it’s something that old Chester just gets confused about. Patience has always been a requirement when caring for this impish dog. Now patience has taken on a whole ‘nother meaning.

Chester with his best friend, Sandy

Whereas I like to sit and talk about how I feel about things, Sarah likes being able to take action and “fix” them. So now she’s got Chester taking a daily dose of supplements — including melatonin to help him sleep.  It sounds ridiculous, but having a dog who doesn’t sleep and who now stares at the walls instead of licking your face like he used makes you sad enough to want to try anything, including giving your dog ginko biloba to improve his memory.

We know the life expectancy of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is 10.7 years, which would mean Chester has 1.7 years left of life. Although the thought that he won’t be with us makes my chest feel extraordinarily heavy, I know what we need to do: enjoy him while he’s here. Keep on enjoying the entertainment & laughter he brings. One thing having a dog has shown me is that huge amounts of love can come in small packages. Small, sassy, furry packages.

Impromptu gluttony on a Sunday afternoon

Enraptured crowd listening to a Toronto Mexican band

In order to stave off Sunday night blues, I gave my bestie a call and invited her to join me on a walk. I’d intended to just stroll around our neighborhood and bitch about how filled with rage and sadness work makes me. Because nothing beats the Sunday night blues more than complaining about Monday morning misery, right?

In the park across the street from her home, we happened upon the Inti Raymi Festival – an Andean folk music and dance festival celebrating the Summer Solstice. There was (bad) music, (embarrassing) dancing and (fried & delicious) food at the festival.

The options for fried food had this glutton overwhelmed with the choices in front of her. Rather than choose one and later regret my decision for what I’d ordered and wish for this, that and the other thing, I decided to go for the whole enchilada. Except I didn’t have an enchilada. I’m almost embarrassed to admit this (but not enough to not go public with it), but I ate an empanada (yum!) and a steak sandwich served by someone who was quite possibly the nicest festival worker I’ve ever met, washed down with a chocolate syrup-filled churro and Diet Pepsi.

You can take the girl out of Central Pennsylvania, but you can’t take  Central Pennsylvania out of the girl, apparently. Because despite having lived in a few multi-cultural cities in my adulthood, I never had a sweet clue what a churro was until today. To say I was missing out is an understatement. If you don’t know what one is, all you really need to know is that a churro is fried dough. Having been born and bred in Central PA means I’m very familiar with fried dough of many varieties, but none quite as good as the churro.

After having sufficiently gorged ourselves on bad foods, Sarah and I slowly made our way back to our respective apartments. Sunday night blues were pushed aside only temporarily, but I have a feeling the evidence of that churro is going to be hanging out on my ever-expanding love handles for a very long time.

Fried goodness filled with chocolate goodness

The Sassy Unicorns take on City Chase Canada: Toronto #1, 2011

Getting photo-bombed pre-Chase

Today my best friend and I (the one who dubbed me Chancy years ago) ran our 3rd City Chase competition in Toronto. We came in 14th – the 4th all-female team to cross the finish line. Actually, I hobbled, coughed and sputtered over the finish line, but that’s neither here nor there. 

Backstory: We ran our very first chase in June 2010 and came in 11th place! We were proud, damn proud. And immediately knew we were bitten by the “City Chase bug”. That was our first race, but we weren’t about to let it be our last. Our second chase in August 2010 landed us in 24th place; we blamed an injured leg (Sarah’s) and an illness (mine) on our “poor” finish.

Present: After 3 hours and 1 minute of running, holding tarantulas and eating dog food, we came in 16th place. Out of 499 teams in this city, we are 14th best. Not bad for a couple of 30-something women who haven’t exercised in months.

Fortunately, Lady Luck was on our side, because our team number was 1121 this year.  Sarah and I both believe that the number 11 has significance in our lives. Good things come to those who see 11, in other words. If it wasn’t for the slow TTC streetcars holding us up, we are certain we would’ve done even better. So we can blame the slow “rocket” and our shitastic cardio for not coming in Top 10 like we’d hoped.

Here’s a little description of some of the Chase Points we earned today.

Earn $50 (or more) for your first Chase Point. We raised $150 this time around for Right to Play, which goes to children in Malawi. Right to Play is a fantastic organization and it was relatively easy to raise the money. Using Facebook as a means of reaching out to family & friends was the key to success for us.

Blind taste test: I was blind-folded and had to guess if Sarah was feeding me dog food or human food. She fed me both. Yuck!

Creepy crawlies: After sticking my hand into a bucket full of mice and pulling out a blue pebble, Sarah had to stick her hand in a blue box and hold the contents — a tarantula! Check her out, all zen-like and smiling while that creature crawls all over her! Gah!

A brave soul

Guess the flavors or eat a cricket: hop over to the local ice cream parlour and guess the flavors of ice cream you’re sampling! Wrong answer? Too bad! Your partner now has to eat a cricket! Fortunately for me, the crickets had already been eaten and a lucky few escaped. This mean I had to instead consume a dog biscuit. I got my nutrition in the form of dog food this Chase, that’s for sure.

Make like Demi & Patrick: in the movie “Ghost” they shared a pretty sexy scene with clay. In Toronto’s City Chase, we had a pretty sweaty (and very non-sexy) challenge with clay. We worked together like a well-oiled pottery machine and were done with that challenge in no time.

These stilts are made for walking: we paired up with another team to pretend we were all “slalom-skiing” on a wooden board. Four people, two planks, hard stuff. From there, we tried our hands (or feet?) at walking on stilts. Sarah did pretty well, but I thank my years of playing on a pogo stick in my childhood for mastering this task very quickly and moving right along.

The day went by so quickly that I can’t even remember the other challenges at press time. But you get the idea. Adventure, smiles, getting you out of your comfort zone — that’s what City Chase is all about.

I didn't feel nearly as stupid as I looked

Hints for newbie Chasers:

  • Sometimes they repeat challenges, sometimes locations are repeated. We are learning this after having participated in 3 Chases. But more important than the challenges is your strategy. If you don’t have a strategy planned, get one if you want to place well.
  • Don’t panic when given your clue sheet – take the time to figure out which clues you want to (or can) decipher
  • “Phone a Friend” – an idea taken straight from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” is so very important. Fortunately for us, Sarah’s girlfriend is a master Googler and was our 3rd team member, essentially.  Thanks, Sarah! 
  • Map out where you’re going to go and in which order — it is imperative to success.
  • Either run like hell or cross your fingers that the TTC is going to be reliable for once. We know for certain we would’ve done better if we’d been in better shape. We would’ve opted to run a lot more and skip waiting for streetcars and subways (yes, even for long distances) – we figured that we wasted about 25 + minutes just waiting for public transit. We were only 31 minutes behind the winning team…if we hadn’t waited for the TTC, we would’ve guaranteed a better finish time.
  • HAVE FUN! Most of the fun comes from seeing your partner eat dog food, make a silly face while dancing & singing Pokerface, talking to other Chasers and of course, holding your partner’s hand as you cross the finish line. Or, if you’re me, eating his/her dust as you cough & sputter. Whichever!

City Chase is incredible and I tell everyone I know about how wonderful it is. It wouldn’t be quite as wonderful if I didn’t have my favorite person in the world running along next to me, slugging down protein gel packs as we move from station to station. Will The Sassy Unicorns return to City Chase again? You bet! And you should participate, too!