Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rut a tut tut...

My diary posts are almost always inspired by conversation topics that I find to be recurring at any given point in time. Don't you sometimes feel like certain issues just keep on crossing your path? I don't know how or why it happens, but it always gets me thinking...

These past few days I've been thinking a lot about our insecurities and our personal thoughts on our own self-worth. Well, I can't say it's a new topic on this blog, I'm quite sure I've mentioned it several times in the past, but for some reason the issues seems a little more pressing...not only in my mind, but in the minds of others. Recent conversations with friends (from various circles might I add), and the December 2010 issue of Shape Magazine has me convinced that I'm not the only one that ponders or struggles with this issue.

Somewhere, deep in the back of my restless, vast (though not necessarily crowded) mind, I know that I have come a long way. I am sure that I have accomplished a lot...whether it be in terms of education or in terms of health and fitness. I know it. But how often do I believe it? That's a different story...

One of the several articles in Shape that focus on this issue brought up an interesting point: "Most people pay attention to the huge achievements int heir lives: running a marathon, hitting a five-year mark on their marriage, losing 25 pounds. But by also celebrating your smaller triumphs, you'll be happier and up your odds of reaching those bigger feats." (p. 32) As obvious as this statement might sound, when I read it I kind of experienced a eureka moment. A marathon of interviews recently, for both small part-time retail positions and larger full-time career jobs, forced me to speak openly about my past accomplishments. I had no trouble rambling on and on about the charity fashion shows I organized, or my graduation from a top Canadian university, but never once did I come out and say "well, yesterday I was especially tired, hungover and lazy, but I got my ass to the gym and did the best that I could anyways, even if it was half of what I usually do." Why not? In retrospect I realize what an accomplishment that was for me, at that moment in time, and how much of a struggle it turned out to be, but at the time I would never see it that way. Why not, again? Because at the time, all my negative mind could focus on was how upset I was at the fact that I wasn't doing my best and that my workout wasn't as intense or as long as it should have been. Maybe if I focused on how much it was I would have felt much more confident (which is exactly how I should feel) slapping on a skirt and nylons that same evening for a night out on the town...

Isn't it so funny how our mind works? ...But is it our mind, or how our mind is trained to think? Sometimes I feel like we programmed to expect the worst and dismiss the best. A friend of mine said to me recently that whenever she's blessed with a bit of success, the thought of it being ripped away from her scares her away from pursuing the said opportunity she's presented with. I've felt that many times myself.

Isn't it funny how I am now exactly who I wanted to be 5, 10, 15 years ago, yet I'm still not satisfied? The chubby, teased little girl of my past is screaming and yelling at me from inside, reminding me how many tears were cried in yearning of the body I've worked so hard to achieve....why do I keep silencing her?

Isn’t it funny…how the things we are most hard on ourselves are the things that people seem to compliment us the most on?

Isn’t it funny…how after one hurtful experience, we are so quick to build a wall around our emotions and ourselves, that seems so impenetrable? That one hurtful relationship outcome fills us up with so much self doubt and drains us of our self love to the point where moving forward seems so daunting, so impossible?

Isn't it funny that when we initially receive a compliment, of any kind, we are elated, but in the end, how long do we actually carry it with us? I'm speaking for myself only, but I find as soon as I step back into the ever-critical workings of my mind, the kind words and happy thoughts are instantly replaced with harsh reminders of all the goals I have yet to achieve. 

I wish I could conclude this post with a suggestion, with encouraging words. And I don't want to be depressing or negative. There are days when I could run to the top of the mountain and shout to the world how proud I am of myself. But then there are the dark days, when I can feel the failure in every over-worked muscle in my body...including my heart, my mind. I think that we all need to realize that these painful feelings are unavoidable. That no one can be positive all the time. That the gym won't always make you feel better after you binged one too many times. I think the second we can see past these feelings, when we are plagued with them, we will realize that the brighter side as never really left us, that it will creep into our horizon again slowly, if only we have a itty bitty bit of patience, if we just keep on keepin' on...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sleepytime Tea is a Rip Off

Mission camomile tea=fail

Mission eat early to avoid nightmares=fail

Mission warm glass of milk=fail

Mission cut coffee and other caffeinated products from diet=fail

Mission cut down on workouts=fail

Mission sleep=epic fail

Seriously, will I plagued with insomnia for the rest of my life?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On to the next...

After LiLi's Diary spent some time on the shelf, as the desk of femme fraiche left very little room for its pages, I've decided to brush the dust off the cover and indulge myself in some non-foodie-writing. It just so happens that my thoughts are once again inspired by a life change, obviously.

This summer, as I restlessly lay in the Taormina heat, my idle mind wandered to many-a-places. Shortly before I left, I met with my cousin, Twin, to get to talking about the possibility of a career in the insurance industry--something I would not have even looked over once, not to mention twice, on my own. It is my firm belief, however, that ignorance is not always bliss, that sometimes when a little light is shed on something that might be out of our line of sight, we might realize it may be much more fitting than we could ever imagine. With careful thought and research, and a compelling testimony thanks to AP, the dirt road to my future began to take on a much more paved gleam. I decided to pursue it more feverioushly upon my arrival back home.

I am a self-proclaimed extremly impatient person. Well, that's not entirely true, but when I want something I want it and I want to have it....5 minutes ago. So as the vacation came to an end, and the Moxie's bashing with TBagg became more intense with every vodka water San-Pellegrino-Lime, my need to leave (again) hit its strongest point. When I got home, I called my close friend LG on the ASAP to set up an interview with her at her store, even though it meant a move from one retail place to the next. A move was all I really needed, I told myself, to get the ball rolling. I wanted to have a full-time position by Christmas, and I needed the motivation that change and challenge bring me to accomplish my goal.

I got the new job with LG, but unfortunaletly, the position did not work out the way I thought it would. So after leaving Moxie's not once, but twice, I returned. Though this time, I had a little less patience in my drive and a lot more desire to move to the next step in my life than ever before. I spent the past few months sending my emails out into the abyss of the internet, a process I have become oh-so-familiar with since graduation, only to learn that the opportunity I was looking for would come knocking on my inbox door. After a referral thanks to AP, two interviews, a gruelling waiting game (whoever said patience is a virtue obviously never had to wait for anything), I was informed yesterday that I got the job!

My excitement for starting this next phase continues to course through me with fever, as I sit here, the next morning, after a night of extremely restless sleep. It's funny how my stomach knots got tighter with energy as I learned the good news, instead of unravelling like I expected them to. In less than two weeks time, I will officially become the career girl I have been dying to be for some time now.

For any one who graduates without a definite plan, the process of finding your path can be both disheartening and depressing. Just when I thought my objective of being employed by December 25th was unattainable, opportunity presented itself and I learned once again to never doubt your goals. And on top of that, how important it is to make them in the first place.

As I pat myself on the back, I wish it were your hands that were patting me too...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"I could use a dream or a genie or a wish..."

"to go back to a place much simpler than this..."-B.O.B feat Hayley Williams-Airplanes

Usually on my drives home from the gym, my energy is exploding: if weather permits, windows are down, music is on so loud it almost drowns out my even louder singing. But today, after consecutive workout numero 6, my car rang with the sounds of only professional artists, albeit, my windows were still down thanks to 35 degree weather (at 9 am) This time I decided to actually listen to the words of the songs, instead of trying to sing over them.

One, in particular, caught my ear (?<--insert appropriate saying here). From B.O.B feat Eminem and Hayley Williams Airplanes: "And back when I was rappin' for the hell of it, But now a days we rappin' to stay relevant". I thought it was so true. I am not a rap-game-aficionado, but it is still easy to see how the industry has changed. Before, rapping about money and women and cars made you famous and kept you around, now fans are much more educated, now they want something with more substance.

And I thought to myself, now how true is this for so much else in life, so many people, so many situations?

Is ignorance really bliss? Take, for instance, when someone you love is sick or in trouble: would you rather turn a blind eye to avoid having to deal, or scrutinize anybody and everybody for each and every detail in order to be supportive? I remember when I was hit with my first tragedy--when the life of my fun-loving free spirited Uncle Wally was taken from him, and from us. The months of his illness are like a bunch of hazy clouds in my mind--and not because I was too young to have a decent memory of them, but because I felt like I was getting constantly left in the dark, having information withheld from me to protect me, not upset me. I was so angry. My aunt called one day and I pressed her for details. When she glossed over the subject I freaked out. I am not the ignorance-is-bliss type, my curiosity does not allow it. (Although sometimes my mind wishes it would, to keep the fairytale I build in my mind alive and kicking)

I'm not just talking matters of the heart here. This lyric made my thoughts split into a few different strands. I can remember the day, although not clearly or from personal experience, when post-graduate education of any form made you a big deal. When you still had to rip the sides off printer paper. When the internet still required me begging my teenage phone-obsessed siblings to let me share the line so I could chat on MSN. Now, only a short time later, everything has changed. Only PhDs or professional post-grad programs get you a career, and even that is not a gaurentee. Now the internet is a whole other world and if you missed the boat, good luck finding yourself a seat when you finally manage to clambour aboard. Options are endless for anyone for everyone.  Apparently, our generation is just as stubborn as am I when it comes to unveiling the truth, discovering new things, breaking barriers. We have broken more than I think any of us imagined and good for us! But not so good for our futures. When, in the past, there were still windows of opportunity in a lot of fields, now, so many markets are flooded. Jobs that used to require merely experience now ask for degrees and when you show them that, they ask you for a profile that'll impress, enough to make you memorable out of the million other candidates who came before and will definitely come after.

As I see it, you have two options when faced with this challenge. Option one is to keep your innocence, remain ignorant, move on to something else and push your heart's desires to the last page on your agenda. Or you can jump in, take a deep breath, and work slowly. Despite the fact that my refusal to remain uneducated has also given me a slight case of anxiety, all the while leaving me feeling a bit like im constantly drowning, I will not give up my fight for success. It is not every day when I stumble across feelings so passionate. It is even more rare when they last longer than a day, or an afternoon, or an hour. You know that feeling? The one where every compliment or step forward makes you all giddy, every set back only pushes you harder...the one that makes you re-think a routine you normally follow so stubbornly--makes you want to throw it all away and just dive into your dream full-force, no strings attached, nothing holding you back. The one that stays on your mind, even when you want a break, you ask it stop, you try to remove yourself. It is a high I refuse to let fall.

Trust me, if you love it enough, it is worth it. And it is not so cold once you get used to the water...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My mind's in suburbia

Both a recent day trip to the city (with my mama, just like old times) and a recent registration at my previous home-away-from-home (U of T) has had me falling in love all over again with T.O. My daily routine of gym-work-home-sleep has kept me confined to the two major intersections that make up Woodbridge (Weston/Langstaff, Weston/Hwy 7) and it was refreshing to get back into the city for a full day, to walk the same walk I did for four years, to take it all in again. Travelling through the area of Castle Loma got me thinking of Paris, both of the grandeur of Versailles and the chic simplicity of the Parisian-styled town homes that line the neighbouring streets. International delicacies made me realize that European adventures, although cherished and constantly craved, can be made locally if you just open your mind and do some online research.

But after a tiring day, yes, downtowning coupled with a lengthy pit stop at Yorkdale (standard) does get me sleepy, I must say it was nice to come back home. My parents have always had a knack for picking just the right streets to move to--despite moving twice in the past few years, I have never felt uncomfortable and have always felt at home even on moving day, even in the chaos. (I guess it helps that we have stayed in a 5km basis for each move, but that's besides the point). My first home is where I lived the dream childhood--I met my two soul mates, we created our fantasy world and grew up in that bubble. I think a lot of my time is still spent living in it now, even though I'm gone, even though I've grown. My second home was the ideal drop-in spot--all my friends were always welcome on my front porch at anytime, my backyard was the perfect setting for keg parties and flip cup games on rainy nights (thanks to our roofed patio). My current home welcomed me from the start--small and cozy, with neighbours so typical of picture perfect suburban life it makes me tingle with warmth at the very thought. An image of my daily witnesses pops in my head: grandparents taking their kids to school, young guys washing their cars and dirt bikes, everyone gathering at the white plastic table and chairs on warm summer, spring and fall evenings, placed strategically on their front yard, paved just for that reason, to welcome any and all of their neighbouring home owners.

I am naturally a home body, my horoscope even says so, so alot of sentiment is held in my home life for me. And that is all-encompassing--from the actual structure, to the lot surrounding it, to the neighbours, to the landscaping on the yard, to the trees that line the curbs, to the feeling I get when I round the corner, turn on my street and unlock my door. For my whole life, home always been a suburb. My childhood memories are comprised of annual block parties, bike riding adventures, street sports, convenience store runs, gossiping owners of corner pizza joints, walking to school and home without a guardian. My current days are full of comforting familiarity--seeing the same people at the gym everyday, the regulars at work, cashing out with the same person daily at Fortino's, having that instant camaraderie whenever you meet a fellow citizen..my life has always been in suburbia, and I don't think I could ever leave.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Looking for a bridge over flooded waters...

Sometimes I feel like I am living in a world where I am constantly standing in flooded waters. Why is it that everything always seems so over done, so many times repeated?

Maybe it is the universe that I'm choosing to immerse myself in right now, but it seems to me like the creative arts job market is becoming more and more popular with each passing day.  There is no such thing as being arts-minded or inclined anymore. Both print and online resources make any skill accesible to anyone willing to put in the research time and work effort. With a promotion of expressing your personality so evident--from blogging, to Facebook profiles, to Twitter and all the way down to personalized desktop backgrounds and cell phone skins--the pressure is on for everyone to stand out, in their own unique creative way. What does this mean? For one thing, a world with a lot less black and white (which, for a colour junkie like me, seems like not such a bad thing). But on the other hand, it also makes jumping into the world of writing seem beyond daunting....making me feel too old while also making me feel too young...like a naiive little girl with too many questions to ask and not enough answers to give.

Learning the ropes of a new field is both exciting, for a curious mind, yet exhausting, for the mind of a self-diagnosed sufferer of ADD. So much information is available at our finger tips...but what do we do with it? What is important enough for us to absorb, and what should we let trickle out our opposite ear? What may be new and exciting and world changing for me, may be old news to the rest of the world. How do I make myself interesting to read while supplying information that is both knowledgable and relevant for both educated and uneducated minds in my particular field of interest?

By the same token, this is not the case for arts careers only. I think about professional fields like law, medicine and teaching especially, where the extra schooling replaces the unpaid internships but still does not gaurentee you a secure job position once you've been handed your diploma. Gone are the days when education put you a step ahead. Here are the days of doubled student loans courtesy of unemployment and brutal interest rates.

So as I begin my journey, I look for inspiration in everything and everyone. Recent advice from several people has always been the same: write, write write and do some reading and write some more. I am particularly reminded of my good friends LC and EC, and my mom, who have given up so much of their time in devotion to the passion for their future. LC, with her countless volunteer hours spent in classrooms, with high school teams, in the basements of churches teaching catecism classes, and so much more I'm sure I'm unaware of. And EC with her absurdly impressive writing resume which I am both envious and so very proud of. And of course, my mom, who miraculously managed to work full time, go back to get her BA, go to teacher's college, and still always manage to have lunches made, dinner ready and clothes ironed for us on a daily basis. What has this landed them, you ask? An acceptance letter from every teacher's college school of choice, a brand new career as editorial assistant at a Rogers magazine, and a career title change from underappreciated office manager to many student's (at many different schools) supply teacher of choice. And so I will try to emulate their success with their same persistance and perservance.  And despite my recent lack of effort on the blogging part, I will write until my fingers bleed and my laptop battery dies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Home may be where the heart is...but who says he can't have a vacation cottage?: Vecchio Frak

After a stressful day at work, serving strangers and refilling too many waters on the patio, I decided I needed a good hearty comfort-food meal. Growing up with an Italian background, in an Italian neighbourhood, comforting food doesn’t come to me in grilled cheese sandwiches or BBQ burgers, but in wood-oven thin crusted pizzas and fresh homemade pastas. You could understand why I felt the only suitable place to satisfy my cravings would be good ol' College St. After a traffic-less drive, a lucky parking spot and a wind-filled wander, we ended up at Vecchio Frak, where we were warmly greeted by a familiar-looking host. In true mia casa รจ tua casa fashion, we were welcome to seat ourselves at any spot we favoured. The restaurant was just the right amount of being European-chic--it didn't make me feel underdressed nor did it make me feel like I went through a time warp to the 80s. Unlike so many spots on College, the restaurant seemed to seat many without forcing you to rub elbows with other patrons. The interesting and lengthy drink list only triggered my indecisive tendencies, so I let the server (with the Italian accent--common among almost all the employees in this restaurant, and a weak spot for me) be my guide in beverage selection--and he read me all too well, sending me over a larger-than- life-sized version of my favourite cocktail: a pina colada. Antipastos definitely had us contemplating skipping entrees, but our decision not to was wise in the end. The perfectly flavoured bruschette miste was just soft enough (but not mushy) to keep the fresh toppings on the bread from becoming castaway victims to the plate. The tonno, olive e patate salad was not over dressed and the potatoes reminded me of the ones I used to cherish from the tavola calda at the Italian bakeries by my house. The Campolina pizza with mozzarella, truffle oil, mushrooms and eggplants was authentically rustic and thin--but not the thin that doesn’t go straight from dough to burnt. The truffle oil added that amazing flavour that only truffle oil can master and the eggplants were cooked just right, with the skin left on, but with not a hint of bitterness. The risotto alla pescatore was seasoned well and the rice was cooked perfectly al dente. Although the fish variety included much of the ocean, it seemed to be a little too al-dente itself. Our full stomachs forced us to pass on dessert. Instead we ended a pleasant evening with a Campari and soda and a Gaggia-made cappuccino. The simplicity of the experience made it ideal--friendly service, light and fresh fare in a favoured location. Added bonus? Discovering that the familiar host was a long-lost elementary school friend who just moved back to Canada after living in Italy for 8 years. Needless to say, my nostalgic cravings were more than thoroughly satisfied. A genuine offer to return by the staff will surely be accepted in the near future.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Get Lost

If my past blogs haven’t made it obvious enough, I’m the type of person who finds myself most completely when I am nowhere to be found. I like to lose myself in my surroundings, whether they be scenery, literature, magazines, a conversation, or a movie. You’ll often find me ignoring my less-interesting guests at work in favour of a juicy conversation (usually about travel) with some of our regulars. As a moody Cancer, it’s not too unpredictable that my source of distraction changes quickly and often. I find I think most clearly when my mind is fuelled with interesting topics and captivating visions. Today I’m dedicating my blog to my favourite way to pass the time--playing hide and seek (with secret hopes of never being found)

Here’s a sneak peak to this week’s top-secret hiding spots:

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton: who ever said whimsical could only be found in the Fantasy section at Chapters? I’m not quite through this one yet, as I’m indulging slowly to savour the imagination-provoking text about mystery, fairy tales and knowing your true self. The constant change of scenery and time period keep you on your toes and keep my easily-distracted mind entertained thoroughly. The book takes place in the early 1900s, the 1970s and some-what present day (2005) following three different characters travelling between England and Australia in hopes of self-discovery. As a reader, I anxiously read to discover with them, all the while trying to unravel the mysteries of their pasts that slowly reveal themselves throughout the text. A book that never quite gives you all the answers but is always provoking questions--need I say more?

Food & Wine-May 2010: Nothing like a good gourmet food magazine to make you hungry. But for anyone whose been tempted enough to look past the salivating cover knows there’s much more to magazines like this one than just luxurious and strenuous recipes. Two articles in particular struck my attention in this month’s issue:

Red Wine & Vegetables: Friends or Foes by Ray Isle profiles Californian vineyard owner and restaurateur Randall Grahm and his chef Charlie Parker and their tendency for (successful) odd wine pairings. Anyone who knows me, or has at least caught sight of me even once in a school cafeteria or work back-room knows I should be part-rabbit for how much I love fruits and veggies. Needless to say, I obviously took pleasure in reading how well his “spicy 2007 Bonny Doon Bien Nacido Syrah [one of my favourite varietals] matches beautifully with Parker’s warm-main course salad of young turnips with greens, black olives and hazelnuts”. The success is credited to the earthy properties of root veggies. How relieving it is to know I can have my cake and drink my red, too.

Soup Nazis have more than just a bubbly big-haired Elaine to worry about nowadays. In Where Chefs go to see the Future, Anya von Bremzen talks about international chef congresses that are putting the concept of “secret ingredients” in the past by showcasing master chef’s creating complex dishes right before your (and the media’s) eyes. This article brought in stark contrast for me just how accessible cooking techniques have become for us--from the internet to the Food Network, it seems anyone can become an insta-Cordon Bleu graduate. This is something I defintely have taken granted of (with my search bar). But at second thought it kind of saddens me--will showing too much to too many take the magic out of cooking, discredit the talent in the creators?

Don’t forget to check out a tribute to the Great North (that means us, of course) in the travel secton (A Superselective Guide to Canada’s Best Wine and Food). Planning a back-packing venture any time soon? Let the go list be your guide when it comes to dinner restaurant choices and perfect wine pairings: 100 Best New Food and Drink Experiences. Renovating? (or just planning your future dream kitchen as I often do), Ted Allen offers some expert tips for creating a space fit for a culinary king (or even the top chef master of your castle) in Ted Allen’s Renovation Challenge.

The Young Victoria -The beautiful backdrops of traditional English gardens and castles made this the perfect Sunday afternoon film for someone who plans to travel to London in the near future. The movie profiles the life of the legendary Queen Victoria and her successful reign despite a somewhat premature possession of the crown. An essential love story kept me glossy eyed and was made all the more delicious with some seriously wise casting choices. Her self-assured personality and determination for success made me thinking girl-power thoughts for the whole 105 minutes of the film, all the while making me re-think a second degree in English history.

Toronto Life- June 2010

This month’s feature article, 50 Reasons to Love Toronto Now, covers what we love most about our city--from educational reformers like Chris Spence, to restaurants dedicated solely to a comfort food fave, Grilled Cheese, offered up in ten tantalizing versions in Kensington Market. My favourite of the list was number 9, though--The Toronto Temperance Society. An ode to all the cliques, high-society and the no-boys/girls-allowed treehouse mentality, this members-only club located above Sidecar on College is a drinking club for the wealthy. For an annual fee just shy of $300 dollars, members sip on only-the-best cocktails while abiding by strange clubhouse rules (the most entertaining being a strict no-cosmo policy that, if broken results in immediate removal from the premises). Definitely tickles my Gossip Girl fancy.

Here’s what’s next on my list of indulgences:
Rumors by Anna Godbersen…Part 2 of The Luxe teen series
The Sweet Life in Paris by pastry chef David Lebovitz
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass the classic by Lewis Carroll (a must-read before London)
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (Forgotten Garden)
The latest issue of FASHION that just arrived in my mail box today
And of course next month issues of my faves from the stands

Any suggestions??

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Al Gusto

Tucked away in a hiding spot so common to many Vaughan venues (that is, an industrial park), sits Al Gusto-- restaurant, pizzeria, gelateria, bakery, cafe, etc. This multi-purpose venue offers you everything you crave all in one spot with the added convenience of being open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (a notable difference when comparing it to most other neighbourhood bakeries that close no later than 8pm).

Nostalgic for Europe, as always, and anxious for a gelato experience to allow my taste buds to reminisce the way my mind does constantly, I made my first visit to Al Gusto with great friend Alessandra Nicole. I must say, when I first entered I was slightly disappointed. At first look, the large size and serene-ness of the place did not bring me back in time or evoke any sense of familiarity. But a closer examination proved me wrong. Not only does the pastry counter offer every traditional delicacy imaginable like canoli and mini tiramisu (were my eyes fooling me, or did I miss out on the cornetti?) but the gelato bar is fully stocked with both classic flavours like Nocciola, Amaretto, Fragola and Banane and the less common selections of Kinder and Fior di Latte. Not only iss the bar obviously accented with oak wood, but the shelves that line the mirrored walls are faced with bottles of spirits, wines and liqueurs and, of course, boxes of Baci chocolate.

The cozy clustered cafe tables in the front of the restaurant are home to a wide range of guests on this rainy Tuesday evening--a pair of girlfriends catching up, a large group of young parents and their children, several mid-older couples, and a group of young espresso-sparkling-water-drinking men. The typical crowd, familiar decor, predictable menu and delicious cappuccinos painted a beautiful picture of a night in Roma (with the added bonus of a young staff with, get this, authentic, straight from the home-land accents, working alongside their elderly parents).  I indulged in a banana-stracciatella mixture (my two ultimate faves) while Ale opted for a chocolaty mixture of banana and Bacio. Both were a pleasant serving size and both came with brightly coloured wafer rolls (to be enjoyed as a mixture of crunchy and creamy). Despite an educational conversation on the Canadian music industry with Ale (aspiring Canadian girl-group artist from Queen of Hearts, check them out at http://www.queenofheartsmusic.com/),  our cappuccino mugs and gelato cups were quickly emptied (and by emptied I mean licked clean).

Although, the experience did allow me a quick peek down memory lane, lingering patrons reminded me that, in harsh reality, we were not in Italy and gelatos-to-go in colourful coppas were not to be enjoyed on cobblestone streets that did not await us outside...ahh, some things just aren't replaceable.

Al Gusto is located at 8099 Weston Rd (between Highway 7 and Langstaff) with an additional entrance from Jevlan. In addition to its cafe brimming with sweet treats, Al Gusto is also a pizzeria, salumeria and full-service ristorante with a tavola calda and pane.

Monday, May 10, 2010

a picture can say a thousand words and create a thousand thoughts

i have too many dreams, i fear. i spend much too much of my time thinking and get easily discouraged when it comes to doing. i'm learning to find things that keep me motivated and keep my creativity animated. courtesy of m-sac, i have been using vi.usalize.us as my stimulant. i suggest you all spend an hour (or six...like me) on this site whenever you need a good push out of reality into the wrong direction. here are a few of my faves from today:

Fresh to Death

Happy Monday All!

How was your weekend? I hope you spent a decent amount of time enjoying the wonderful weather brought to us c'est fin-de-semaine (that's an ode to you, M-Sac) which included  thunder and lightening that almost brought down my house, wind which threatened to throw me across the Atlantic (which I wouldn't have minded) and a nice healthy May dose of Sunday morning flurries. Ohhhh, Canada. Needless to say, my activities required indoor voices only.

I spent the weekend continuing on my journey of unearthing my domestic goddess. And if you got the chance to taste my carrot cake or baked brie you would not be sneering at my use of the term goddess, on the contrary my friend, on the contrary. Actually, the carrot cake was part of last weekend's festivities, but the excitement of it carried over to this week anyways. You see, my maman was overseas for the past 7 days visiting my dear M-Sac in L-Town so I decided to save her a chunk in the freezer as a welcome home present. Now, I am usually not one to verbally pat myself on the back, but this carrot cake definitely deserves it. The combination of crushed pineapple, grated carrots, chopped pecans, sugar, butter and a cream cheese icing (obviously) made for a 9x13" pan of heaven, courtesy of Canadian Living. Here's a shot of what's left, stowed away in my freezer, waiting patiently for our next binge day:

This weekend however, I crossed over to the savoury side of the palate. In addition to indulging in a Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings marathon, I spent Friday evening catching up with Mama and her European adventure while assisting her in the preparation of 40 cannelloni for my grandmother's 80th birthday party. This experience not only taught me how to cook an essential dish but also inspired my new goal for the week! (I tend to set both fitness and diet goals every week to keep myself entertained and motivated) I didn't realize it as we were working, but in retrospect there was definitely a common denominator responsible for the success and fame of these cannelloni. What was the LCD, you ask? One word: freshness. Aside from minor ingredients, everything in this dish was made with fresh supplies bought earlier in the afternoon: fresh ricotta from Quality Cheese, fresh noodles from the pasta store, freshly grated parmigiana reggiano cheese...mixed with tasty sauteed spinach, fresh tomato sauce and grated mozzarella...all of which adding up to a casserole sent straight from the Italian gods themselves (are there any of those btw?). Unfortunately, I do not have any photo documentation, but you'd be lying if you tried to tell me your mouth wasn't watering anyways. 

So, as I stated earlier, my new "thing" for the week is to try my best to eat only fresh foods. Minor exceptions will be made, for both convenience and budget. Things like frozen fish fillets are permitted, but canned tuna or salmon is not. Nothing in cans or bags are allowed, neither are things that require scorching in the microwave (cough there goes my popcorn addition cough). Yogurt is still allowed (hello, pro-biotics) and so are things like plain chocolate (i.e. from the 1kg bar of Diary Milk mama brought back). This goal stems from two sources:  1) from the fact that my stomach has not suffered, despite eating a dish not normally included in my diet and 2) from a summer time spent eating foreign (but always fresh), carby, starchy foods, huge portion sizes, not gaining an ounce and always feeling amazing...

And just as an added FYI, my fitness "thing" for the week is two cut my runs in half and add an extra swim session daily (basically, short run, two swims...this is just a needed break from running, just to switch it up, just so I don't stop loving it as much as I do)

I'll keep you posted and let you know how I'm feeling come Sunday!

P.S. Stay posted for my first Vaughan profile, should be up by the end of the week! Research begins Tuesday evening with a much-needed-and-awaited date with a long-lost-stew-loving-sister...

P.P.S-- a shout out is necessary--Happy 80th to my Mociute aka Mociuts aka the Queen aka coolest grandmother ever! xox

P.P.P.S Another shout is necessary--I just wanted to thank my lovely friend Justine for her amazing appetizer idea. It was quite the hit at the party this weekend and may have been one of the reasons why most of our supper dishes ended up packed up and taken home as the whole family's food supply for the week. Curious as to what this tasty treat was? Baked brie, topped with fig jam, wrapped in phyllo pastry:

It was actually my first time working with phyllo and proved to be not as difficult as I feared...

Butter that baby up reeeal good...

Before and after shots

800 gram wheel of brie already half done after a mere 15 minutes of being put out...

Follow my blog with bloglovin

Friday, May 7, 2010

100-Mile Challenge

So, here I am sitting in my computer room, blanket on, hood up...cold. I wish the weather was as nice as the reflection through the windows make it seem. I tried. I took my fluffy slippers and my book and sat on my front balcony...for 3 minutes. No sun was warming me through the chill. There was no hope for me, cold-thin-blooded old me.

My days have been pretty empty lately. I keep myself busy (not with work, mind you...) but empty in the sense of purposeless, obviously. Filled instead with baking and cleaning and reading (I'm currently lost in The Forgotten Garden...check it out) and playing my recently re-purchased Nintendo 64. (Don't lie, you know its the best system ever) I feel like I have all the desire in the world to start building my future, but when push comes to shove, my laziness wins and I'm stuck in front of my newest flea market film purchase, a new episode of one of my many reality-show addictions, or with my book in my hand and my mind in another world.

So as a tool of self-motivation, I have given myself a goal. Unlike most of my recent un-attempted goals, this one I am declaring out loud, in print, so I have no excuse to not fulfill it (since my pride would suffer too much of a blow). I've decided, as a loyal and life-time citizen of Vaughan, I have failed to give it the credit it truly deserves. My knowledge of our wonderful little community falls short when it comes to being in tune to local events, home-town talent, or even where to find the city's greatest slice of pizza. Vaughan is definitely a city in the GTA to be rivaled. Yet, even with so much at our fingertips we always reach further. Nights out locally are hardly given any credit, real celebrations are always saved for downtown venues. Why? Trust me, I am no one to talk. My daily visits to Toronto.com have made me quite a budding expert at the downtown scene...I am definitely one to book everyone of my birthdays somewhere south east of our border. But I think a lot of our lack of appreciation stems only from a lack of knowledge. There is much to love about our town. Much to do and much to be proud of. If there is one place that can disprove that big city lights are the only ones that could possibly shine on success, it is Vaughan. We should proudly claim our citizenship. We should be able to argue to the contrary when people diss suburbia. So, my goal is to help us citizen's of Vaughan do just that. I intend, in my blogs, to profile local hot stops, tasty restaurants, new and old hang outs, young talent, accomplished members of our city and bring them to the forefront, give them a little credit where credit is due.

So I am accepting any and all suggestions. What makes you proud to call this city your home? What do you miss most when you're away? What place gives you comfort when it is needed the most? Where do you go for a great night out, when you need mental relief but don't need a traffic jam or a lengthy subway ride? Where do you get your best morning espresso, buy you freshest and favorite loaf of bread, have your best workout? What contributes most to your routine, the one that is a part of your every-day, not just your week-ends, that makes it just a little less monotonous, a little more enjoyable?

Post your suggestions! Now is the time more than ever. Seriously, suburban lifestyle is hot. A sixth successful season of Desperate Housewives is testament to that. So is are all the Real Housewives. The Hills and The City wouldn't even exist if there was no Orange County and you'd be lying if you said you didn't find Jersey Shore even a little bit entertaining. Let's put Vaughan on the map. (or at least make googling local resto-reviews a bit easier and informative) Maybe you can even be the next Snookie...or Brody Jenner...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Do a little dance

As I was swimming yesterday, I over heard two ladies, who I always see, talking about two very serious issues that they were currently dealing with in their personal lives. It really threw me off considering they are two of the friendliest and seemingly happiest of the ladies that frequent the pool with me. It made me really think about that saying, you know that one, about everyone having skeletons in the closet.

It really is true. Everyone does have at least one guy chillin' behind their favorite cocktail dress or freshly pressed suit. It's just that every person deals quite differently. Some people keep those suckers locked up tight. Those are the people that you tend to usually hate because they trick you into believing that they have the perfect life with no skeletons to deal with at all. Then we have the people on the other side of the spectrum, the ones who obviously don't have enough storage space to keep their skeletons behind closed doors. Those are the people who tend to make their lack of ability to deal with their skeletons a teeny bit more obvious. And by teeny bit I mean that I have fully seen people out with their skeletons on the weekends, I've even served a skeleton a vodka on the rocks before, no joke. (They are an obnoxious crowd, to say the least) That, I think, is a bit extreme. I mean we all have enough trouble dealing with our own skeleton's b.s., I don't need to deal with yours while I'm working, or having a coffee, or relaxing on my day off. There is no need for you to parade your skeleton around town in hopes that other people might buy you two a drink to cheer you up or even offer your skeleton a place to stay.

 And then there are the third type of people, the ones who deal with their skeletons on their own time, for the most part, but sometimes take them out for a short stroll to give them some air, or when they need to vacuum up the dust bunnies on their closet floor. Those are the people who got it right, I think. Sometimes those skeletons can get to be quite a handful, sometimes they get a bit restless and cranky when you keep em cooped up for too long, sometimes we all need a hand or some advice on how to properly rear a skeleton.

Don't you think everyone would be a better person if they knew the right way to raise a skeleton? I think the world would be a better place. For instance, they wouldn't take up our bar tables and disrupt us at work, we wouldn't have to make awkward small talk with skeletons on rare nights out with our girlfriends, we would probably all receive less calls where we are unexpectedly put on conference with others' skeletons and we would be much less envious of some of our peers.

So this is what I propose. I think that we should all get into the habit of letting our skeletons out, maybe if it is even just once a month, for a night out on the town. Loosen them up a little, get them a little tipsy, maybe. We could dress them up in top hats and bow ties and take them dancing. We could merengue and salsa and cha cha. We would have a bit of fun with our pesky old skeletons: eat a nice meal, share a few laughs, do a little jig and drink a whole lot of tequila. We could play a game or six of flip cup, show our skeletons who is really boss.

Maybe we could even bond a bit.

Maybe our skeleton could teach us a thing or two about ourselves, our strengths, our limits. Maybe we could learn to see a new side of our skeletons, a better side, a side that makes us a little less hesitant to open up that closet door when we know we have to re-organize our wardrobe...

Monday, April 26, 2010

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

Monday mornings are always bittersweet. I enjoy how I usually feel so refreshed after a full and complete day of lazyness and relaxation, after a tiring week of work and even more tiring week of workouts. Every Monday is the same: I wake up a bit earlier than needed, a little sad that my weekend festivities (no matter how simple, how grand, how memorable or how blurry they may have been) are over, a little anxious to work off my weekend binges, and a little excited to begin my countdown for whatever I have planned next. For the most part my spirits are high, even despite the fact that it seems impossible to swat away that inkling feeling that continuously threats to creep up into my mind--wake up silly girl, that refreshed feeling won't last too long, the week begins again, back to the grind.

Grind? Let's get serious here. My life is definitely less than grinding. The only difficult daily task worth mentioning would be my workouts, I guess. Those I use as a means to feel stronger than I really am, I push myself harder than I should so I can walk away feeling like I accomplished something, defeated something, am worthy of those indulgent breaks I take. But besides that, my life is everything but challenging. Wake up, go to the gym, come home, eat lunch, serve other people some lunch, go for a swim, eat a yogurt and cool whip parfait. Oh yes, I lead a difficult life (*yawn*)

This Monday has brought with it a new and foreign emotion. It's been headed my way for quite some time now, I was expecting its arrival. Today, like so many other days since graduation, I am feeling less than inspired. But in a different way than normal. Usually I embrace my un-inspiredness, thankful for a mental break, thankful for the fact that I am happy even though I have nothing really exciting to report, nothing extra special going on in my life right now, no news on the horizon, no impending grand plans. Today is different. Today I am on the lookout for inspiration, slightly jealous of my peers who seem to be swimming in a giant pool of it, with their foot in every door of opportunity. I am envious of those whose inspiration is so obvious, whose drive is so feverish, whose passion is so defined for them, it is them, they cannot function without it. I use to be like them, working, gyming, schooling and planning major events without ever tiring, achieving all the goals I set out for myself (and even surpassing a few). I seem to have lost that, though. Now I am inspired by my past self, my past accomplishments, envious of that energy for something that seems so diminished or so wasted on less than important tasks.

A recent discussion I had with creative writing college professor Antanas Silieka made me realize even more how much I crave that all-embracing desire for something. Writing, he said to me, was something I knew I had to do. It wasn't so much about living my dream, but about doing the only thing I was capable of--I am quite literally clumsy when it comes to anything else. And that is what it is all about. Dreaming is essential, of course. I, Captain Dreamer, Miss Disney, am first to advocate that. But a dreamer does not a happy person make. Anybody can dream. I dream all day long, but I don't do much. Dreaming is a fallacy, it is a guilty pleasure, it can take you away while you sit still, it can make you reach new heights while you're grounded. But the idea of dreaming is limiting. How many people actually end up living their dreams? The statistics seems so daunting. They seem so discouraging. If our future is only a dream we will likely settle for the next best thing, thankful we got so close, yet never feeling entirely fulfilled. No, it cannot just be about dreaming. It has to be about finding that thing, the only thing, the one thing you can do that makes you feel like you finally found your skin. The one thing you can do without stumbling, no matter how many times people try and push you, how much you are tested, how many times you think you have failed.

That is what I am looking for today. I search for it in my things, in my favorite books, my most prized possessions, even in my little doodles, my agenda, in my half used notebooks, my cookbooks and written recipes, my past travels, my future travels, my Google search bar......

but it is no where to be found.

I guess like every other good thing in life, and likewise, everything we ever misplace, it will come to me when I least expect it, I will find it in the one place I forgot to search....

Are you inspired?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ode to Christopher Columbus

I usually get at least one or two days off a week (not counting my lunch shifts which are actually, at the most, 4 hours each). Usually, I appreciate it how one regularly would--running forgotten errands, tying loose ends, relaxing, shopping, visiting my favorite hairdresser. But today I enjoyed it the way it is meant to be enjoyed. As I lay on my makeshift lawn chair in my backyard, consisting of a cement patio and towel pillow, it's hard not to contain my good mood, hard not to tap my feet to the beat of my iPod.

It is absolutely perfect today. It makes it so easy to pretend like 4 wheelers are motorinos. It is impossible not to close my eyes and be back on that coast, with that town on the cliff, or the one with the buildings of uniform white, or the one with the broken mountain cliff and stretch of white sand. It is difficult not to dream to be back on the road again, planning another journey, jetting off to another spot to discover, to explore. Sadly, it all falls apart with the sliding of the screen door and a call to the vaccuuming duty I`ve been lazily pushing aside all day long.

But as long as the sun shines, my mind will stay stuck in another place...my intention of an impromptu getaway still at the heart of my summer plans.

When you travel, what do you travel for? Do you wish to see for yourself the tales you are told in your history books? Do you want to brush the fur of a lynx, feel the mist of a rainforest, get tangled in a vine? Are you restless or passive? Do you want to globe trot from Sardegna to Siam, from Tanzania to Thailand, from Dublin to Dubrovnik? Or do you settle in one locale?...live the culture, unearth its mysteries in their entirety, exploring just as much of yourself as you explore the land...

My two European getaways taught me much about myself, my travel style. My first trip to Italy was a trip in constant transit. It made me realize how much I love my friends and family. It made me realize that I am a person who loves being around the people they love. It made me see that loneliness is felt in a room of empty faces. That sometimes it can take being surronded by a throng of people to realize how isolated one can get.

My second trip made me realize that I really am as lazy as I claim, that constant change (or change that happens at anything more than snail pace) unnerves me, makes me anxious. It made me realize that I cannot function on a schedule not created by myself, that I can run 6 miles a day but I do not move quickly naturally, and that I am truly happy when my skin is warmed by the sun, kissed golden by its rays in a backdrop where the soundtrack is of lapsing waves, departing and arrive boats...where nature is alive and we thrive off it, depend on it, worship its simple granduer. It made me realize that I can fall in love with a land, that it can leave a mark on my heart and take a piece of my soul. That when I find my right fit then I don`t need to try it on for size, but my mind is already made and I find myself standing at the checkout, credit card in hand, already embracing the newest piece of the puzzle of me as if it has been there all along.

What else do we ever look for, really, besides a niche? A little corner where we fit in so perfectly, relax so easily, so comfortably. Sometimes our niches are lavish, sometimes they are simple. Sometimes they are found close by and crowded with familiarity; sometimes they are far off and unhampered. Sometimes they are found in a person, sometimes in a place. Sometimes they are our perfect job, our ideal home, our newborn child, our grown teenager, our mother, our father, our siblings. Sometimes our niche is a spot on our couch, a chair on our veranda, a wooden deck at our cottage. Regardless of their variety, they all posses the same power--they are always where we find ourselves most truly, always where we find we can explore ourselves most thoroughly, with no restrictions.

It is with this thought that I urge you to book that trip. To realize that when your mind is constantly in flight, than why should you ground your feet? To learn that sometimes it takes you going to the other side of the world to find your spot at home.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Late for Today

Isn't it so funny how sometimes time can stand so completely still? And I'm not talking about those moments you read about in books where "I looked into his eyes and time stood completely still". I'm talking about those moments where something so subtle can bring you back so far so quickly and make you feel like you never left, like you never grew up, like things haven't changed so much.

It doesn't take much for me to experience this type of nostaglia, or so I noticed today. It can be the simplest thing. Take, for example, a visit to the dentist's office. The very same dentist you've gone to your whole entire life. As soon as I walk through the doors I am 10 years old all over again. Despite some random updates in equipment, everything is exactly the same--from the big automatic chairs, to the yellowish tinge in the overhead lights, to the reception desk and all the fun prizes hidden behind it (the stickers and bouncey balls and  plastic froggies). The years have passed everywhere else in the world except for that dentist office, where I am still that little girl, nervous to be there again and excited to have a day off school. I am that little girl when I open the door to Book City and smell that familiar smell of books old and new, thick and thin, black and white or coloured all over. The same Book City with the same yellow and black sign with the same shelves. All of a sudden I am tugging at my mother's jacket, begging her for the latest Berenstain Bear book to add to my already vast collection. Memories seep through the walls and standing in that room again brings them back into painfully vivid focus.

No, it does not take much at all to take us back. A movie, a storybook, a favorite meal, a cartoon show, a bowl of cereal, waking up to the surprise of cooking pancakes. And even if it's just for a moment, everything is erased. All that we have gone through over however many years that have passed. Getting over our first day of school, making our first friend, conquering our first ever homework assignment, graduating from high school, getting our degree, getting over a flu, healing a broken bone, healing a broken heart...losing someone you love.... And for that moment everything is right again. And nothing has ever hurt enough to leave a scar. We have so much to gain and at the same time everything to lose. And you feel so innocent but still so indestructable. And so motivated and not quite yet jaded. And nothing is impossible.

And everything is possible.

And dreams aren't just for dreaming, but goals for acheiving.

And then you come back to now and you are determined once again. And now I am refreshed all over again.

But a piece of me wishes time could go back and stand still forever. And I wouldn't have to just pretend you were waiting for me in the waiting room. And I wouldn't have to see you in the paintings on the wall, or fly fishing picture frames you made on the counters. Or feel you in the eyes of an old friend. And the time I spend with you wouldn't need to end when I wake up. And I wouldn't need these moments to be reminded of you, because you'd be in the car right next to me.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

If I hadn't just been sitting in it, I would say that you'd lost your mind!

There's something about being young that so many of us seem to forget. It seems easy to do so, too, considering for the bulk of our lives we are told that we need to grow up and be serious to save our futures. It's almost ironic, how we are constantly told we need to work harder when we are young in order to prepare ourselves for a lifetime of, let's face it, working even harder. So when do we get to enjoy the ride? I mean, sure we enjoy it in our own way, through our own outlets. In our social lives, with our friends, with our girlfriends and boyfriends. But that's only half of it. That's only a quarter of the way we spend our time. The rest of it is spent either cooped in the library, sitting in a lecture hall, working full time, building houses, building roads, installing lighting...

But who said we weren't supposed to enjoy what we do for a living? With a world so big and vast, yet with all our opportunities so close, why do we think we have so little choice? And most importantly, why can't we enjoy our road to discovery? Making a choice doesn't have to be as hard as we think, and at the same time it doesn't have to come so easy. We don't need to stick with our first choice...or second, or third. We don't even need to stick with any choice at all, ever. If success and happiness can come to you in constant change, than why do you need to settle for monotony? And if making choices isn't easy, then why can't it be fun? We have the opportunity now to dabble here and there, to explore things we may think we aren't suited for, aren't talented enough for or things that may seem impossible to acheive. But what do we know anyways? How well could you possibly know yourself at 16, at 21, or even 30 to be so sure that you can only do so much?  How many times have you surprised yourself by surpassing your goals, acheiving the unexpected...even if it just means finishing that essay you never thought would end (and acing it, to boot), or making your sales goal at work, finally saving enough money to buy a car, laying that last brick.

It's so easy for us to take our weekend so lightly. To have one too many drinks, to act just a little immature, maybe dance on surfaces not meant for heels, to crankcall strangers (or not) already sleeping, to kiss one too many boys you may not have if your vision was a bit less foggy, to use our outdoor voices indoors, to waste our money on unnecessary clothes, shoes, purses, sunglasses, alcohol...and to back it all up with the "I'm young, what does it matter?" excuse. Maybe the way we think on our offtime isn't so wrong. Maybe we shouldn't try so hard to not act our shoe size. Maybe we can really be ourselves when we don't take ourselves too seriously. Maybe we would make wiser choices, take the more daring path. Maybe we would find a more real version of ourselves, and maybe we would find a path that let's us express that everyday...not just on Saturday nights. Maybe we could end up doing something that makes us happy AND pay the bills...now wouldn't that be naughty?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!

I think I'm finally coming to that point now. My lack of formal responsibilities has cleared my mind and allowed me to reach that place. That place where I feel comfortable starting to think...think about possibilities, think about choices, think about tomorrow...but in a non-restricted way. In a no-deadline kinda way. Not in the way I've been trained to think, to function. There is no due date on my thoughts.

My first step, I've decided, is to think about my thoughts. To think about thinking. Because when it comes down to it, I am myself in my truest form when I am living in my mind. I think we are all most true to ourselves in our thoughts. Contrary to popular belief, we are not defined by our actions, I believe. So often they are done on impulse, so often our insecurities or our over-confidence force us to act, or not act, for all the wrong reasons. So often we regret our actions. So often we rectify them in our thoughts.

What kind of thinker are you? Do you think to dream? Or are your thoughts more grounded? How do you think about yourself? Are you critical or defensive? Do you chastise your self in your mind for the choices you make, or reason away the guilty conscience you have built for the choices you do not make at all? Do you dream of objects...of cars, or houses, or cottages or dogs...or do you dream of emotions? Of happiness and excitement, of laughter and of love?

Does your mind create a fantasy land for you that cushions your thoughts from the harsh reality? Do you dream of living in a land where fantasy is real, where you can touch your dreams with your hand?

I dream of a time where I can be where I dream, without dreaming at all....where I can live the life of my thoughts. I dream of the day when my body follows my find on my journies. When the lands I create can be concrete in some form, in some land not made of smoke. I dream of the day when everything doesn't seem so out of reach. When happiness and success can both mean following your heart. Where the impending doom of our futures doesn't seem so dark, doesn't stop us from remembering the present.

Where does your mind take you? And when do we leave?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lace up

I have a confession to make. It's not something I'm proud of...but really, yes I am. It has led me to make some not-so-wise decisions but has taken me on one of the greatest journies of my life.

I am in an abusive relationship.

Unfortunately, it is not fresh. No, it is definitely not new. It is ten years in progress, and for that reason, it is impossible to walk away.

If the ride on this endeavour has been anything, it has definitely been bumpy. But rough as it has been, every second has been worth it. Even those seconds when I forget just how good it is, especially those seconds when I come so close to giving up, to throwing in the towel, just to pick myself up again and put my all into it with a reborn energy so strong I feel like we're starting all over from scratch.

It is one of those relationships that keep you coming back for more, no matter how battered and weak you feel. It was hard from the start. Hard to commit to. Hard to find the time. Hard to find the energy. Hard to change my ways. The struggle only made it more difficult. Made me feel unworthy. Made me feel like I didn't belong. But as they so often say it will, time made it better. Made me stronger. Made me realize my potential. Slowly I got strong. Slowly I was ready to take on more.

The middle years have passed in a blur. Things got comfortable as they so often do. The whole thing just became a routine. But by the same token, it became my routine. It became a part of my schedule. It became an integral part of my to do list. It became not just something I did, but something I was. And as habit so often does, things became easier. The whole thing just got boring. The challenge disappeared and I lost interest. I stopped giving it all. I thought I had reached my potential. The relationship suffered. It was on the verge of breaking. I was on the verge of calling it quits.

And then it came. That renewed energy that so often seems to save us all in the nick of time. Just when you're convinced you can't take it anymore, you realize why you've come this far in the first place. And the love was back...if it had even ever entirely left. And I was strong again. And we were strong again. Things went back to the beginning. When you get over that awkward stage of finding your footing and finally start to enjoy the ride. And every bump, no matter how big, felt like a make-shift barrier, just put there temporarily, just waiting to be broken. And I could make it through all the pain as if it wasn't there. Ignored until it healed itself. Now, today, we are still going strong, although problem free we are not. I still wake up those mornings with a bad taste in my mouth at the thought of it. I still curse the day it all began, wishing I could have found a life that made me happy without it.

But the fact of the matter is, there is nothing quite like this relationship that I am in. It is contradictory in every which way possible. Just as quick as it can elate me, it will deflate me. It is a monotonous rountine, yet it is completely unpredictable. It has the power to break me down but has the tools to build me back up. It makes me strong, but at the same time it eats away at my bones, makes me weak at the knees. I dread the days when we meet but when we are apart I wish we could be together. It picks me up when I am about to hit the ground, it makes me feel like I can overcome it all...and then it sends me home in tears. It is the only thing that will make me forget the pain...the very same pain it has caused. It understands me the best, without asking for explanation. It needs no excuses. It pushes me further just as quick as it threatens to limit me. It takes me away from it all, without even taking me a mile. It is just as bad for me as it is good. Everyday I go to it with dragging feet just to skip back with a lightened step.

Through it all, it has always been there. Always the same, but always adapting to me as a change, as I grow, as I need more, as I need less.

No one ever said it would be easy. The things that matter the most never are.

It is my battlefield.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Wow has it ever been a while. I went through another one of my slacking stages. You know those stages where you get computer lazy? Lazy to turn it on, lazy to wait for it to load or re-load once it freezes, lazy to creep pictures on Facebook, lazy to respond to peoples posts. That's exactly what I've been lately...lazy...lazy and loving it.

After going through a few changes and switches since the fall I finally feel settled. If you're waiting for me to tell you I've settled into a job with a promise or in even semi-concrete plans for my future, you may be here a while. Because the only thing I have settled into is my meaningless routine of part-time work in service, going to the gym, spending my free time completely as I please whether it be sleeping, or cleaning, throwing tea parties or booking last minute Caribbean getaways. And it turns out it is precisely what I've needed all along, just what the anxiety doctor called for: to be settled feeling unsettled-not knowing what to do next and, finally, not worried about it.

Since as far back as high school (to Grade 10's Civics and Careers to be exact), I've been so entirely focused on the What's Next? What can I do now to make my Next come quicker, make my transition smoother, get me to that place where I make the most money to take two vacations annually and perhaps own a cottage up north. What can I do now to get the best grades to get into the best university? What program can I take that'll give me the best chance to land that lucrative career? What exactly is that lucrative career...why do I want it? What do I ask my work to bring me in my life and what am I willing to give to it in exchange? I always put so much on my plate to make the most of my time--sports teams and school councils, part time jobs that turned into 40 hour work weeks above and beyond my school time, taking on fashion shows during two of the most difficult years of my life, balancing a pretty active social life throughout it all and let's not forget my gym addiction which needs to be fulfilled at least 5 days a week. Although being goal oriented is definitely not a flaw, the problem it seems to cause is that we simply forget to focus on the What's Now? When was there time for me to just sit back and think, to put everything into perspective, to figure out who I am outside all my responsibities, my tasks, my assignments, my workouts, the clubs, the parties? What makes me me when I'm left alone to my own devices...what will I build for myself?  I've focused all my mental stamina on figuring out just where to turn next and have forgotten where I was walking. Every morning I woke up and worked for tomorrow, every night I fell asleep anxious for a sunrise instead of taking the time to enjoy the moonlight.

This realization has helped me to slow down, to step back. To see that after so many years of What's Next I'm finally ready to take some time to live for now. To wake up every day and create my own agenda, to have nothing tying me down from doing what I want when I want--no essay to stop me from going for a tan, to the mall, for a swim, to hot yoga--no meeting with vendors to make me cancel my hair appointments or take me away from that book I just can't put down--no full time job to restrict my vacation book-offs, to stop me from going up north for a few days when I want to just get away, to take me away from the money service work makes so quick and easy and limit my funds. Now I think freely...about whatever I want...about things that don't necessarily stress me out...although sometimes those thoughts creep back up. Now I go to bed as late (or as early) as I want. I book off my shifts online, guilt free. I draw pictures in my agenda to make up for the empty space left blank by a lack of school assignments. Now I am happy being uncertain and excited to make the most of this time of my life...to work to travel....to work to live...and not to live to work....but to live for me.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Everything hurts more when you move slowly

Maybe it's the glass of wine I'm sipping, or the reminiscing of summer escapes that is making me sentimental right now, but more than likely it has to do with a goodbye I will be saying in 2 very short days. On Thursday, my sister is packing up and moving overseas to the UK where she will pretend to work while instead she will indulge in probably the greatest European adventure of her life. Constant preparation makes this week feel like a continuation of the holidays--well, something is different in the air, that is for sure. It is, however, a reality that has yet to hit me. "Can you cover my shift for me so I can take out my sister? She's moving on January 7th for 7 months!" "Of course I'm gonna miss her." I find myself talking about it more than I find myself believing it. 7 months of separation after 22 years of inseparable-ness. Let's be honest, 6 months, as the last one I will spend with her...using her for free accommodations and easy access to bordering paradises. Am I going to miss her? Anyone who knows us knows the answer. Am I jealous of her? Let's just say expedia.ca has been my homepage for the past few days. Am I nervous for her? Probably a lot less than she is for herself...but that's because I'm too happy for her to let any other emotion get in the way. Although the iminent departure date may cause her to let her fear get the best of her, I hope that behind the anxiety she is remembering that this will be an experience she'll never forget, where she will meet people she will always remember, and make memories that will last forever in her mind (probably hazy, though, from all the wine she will ingest prior to making the majority of these memories)

So, tonight I raise my rare glass of week-day red to my sister. My best friend. My twin soul. The girl who shares my smile, shares my eyes, shares my hobbies and most of my paranoia-s. Here is to all the mornings spent in comfortable silence, with a giant bowl of cereal and toasted Russian. Here is to the workouts--the good ones, the bad ones, the frustrating ones, the painful ones, and to the ones we skip. Here is  to the lazy nights spent in, downloading music, making drinks, writing essays (most of the time simultaneously), watching movies, watching TV (and sleeping in front of it) Here is to the messy nights out together--Muzik booths, birthday buses, King One West suites and My Apartments. And here's to the messy nights out apart where shared text messages never kept us too far away from each other. Here's to the nights when I came home too obliterated to lock the bathroom door, or hold my own hair back, or to laugh at myself alone. Here's to the nights when she came home too messy to undress, or stay dressed, or with newspaper stains on her face. Here's to all my stupid comments--my mis-pronunciations, my mis-understandings, that gave one too many opportunities for me to be the punch line of several jokes. Here's to teasing Mom (it won't be funny anymore when I have to laugh at her alone) Here's two our identical warddrobes (a result of our identical presents). Here's to our identical [boy] hair cuts. Here's to our travels--from Wasaga beach to the Eiffel Tower. Here's to the best five weeks of my life spent with the only person I'd ever be able to tolerate for that amount of time in a foreign country. Here is to the girl who is an expert at stopping my tears and wiping my cheeks, at boosting my self-esteem when I've lost it, at motivating me when I'm slacking, at making any disappointment I may ever have in myself disappear, at turning any bad day around by just being there, without even having to say anything at all. Here is to the best sister I could have ever been blessed with. Who I will miss more than I know just yet. This trip is for you Mel. After everything, I can't think of any who deserves it more than you.  Use it wisely. Live it up. Carpe diem. And most importantly, think tabula rasa.

And don't worry about the weather, your heart will keep you warm until the European sun arrives and I join you to spend another summer beneath it with you.