Friday, January 30, 2009

Brought to you by caffeine and the letter "V"

The lovely Brookem over at Shrinkering Hearts had this little ABC thing going on over at her blog, and she's assigned me the letter "V". Yikes.

If you want to participate, leave a comment on this post letting me know and I will assign you a letter. You then write about 10 things you love that begin with your assigned letter and post them on your blog. When people comment on your posted list that they want a letter, you give them one and the chain continues on and on.

So, here we go: 10 things I love, starting with the letter "V".

1. Volunteering. I like to get involved in causes I believe in, like interVivos and Relay for Life. I feel good about contributing to society, and think that everyone is better off focusing on others for a while and forgetting the stresses in our own daily lives.

2. Voting. Oh man, do I ever love voting. As a former political science nerd and a member of interVivos' The Vote Project, which springs up around election time, voting is one of my passions. It's the big chance where citizens have an opportunity to tell the leaders of a country how we really feel about them. It's a democratic right which we take for granted. The shamefully low voter turnouts we have every election makes me hurt inside.

3. Vineyards. I described my dream job earlier this month. Wine is becoming one of my favourite things. It relaxes me after a long, hard day and and is in my glass when raised in celebration. I went to a wine tasting with a friend and now have fantasies of enrolling in a legitimate wine course. The beautiful scenery, delectable food, and delicious wines cause visions of vineyards haunt my dreams. My goal for the summer is to get to the Okanagan with the Boy and visit some vineyards there.

4. Veggies. Vegetables are delicious, I've never needed enforcement to eat them. Even brussel sprouts, which I didn't try until university, create a party in my mouth. Yum, yum.

5. Vests (the sweater kind, not the suit kind). I can't pull off the clean suited vests that all the cool kids are wearing these days, but I love a mean sweater vest. I went through a phase where I couldn't resist them, which was only fueled by the fact that so many of them featured argyle, my pattern of choice.

6. Vegas. The Boy and I went in November, and it was a great time. Censory overload and exhaustion-inducing, but it was interesting to not only see the sights but also people watch. Chain smoking, drinking, and intensely staring into the face of a slot machine are not things that I could do before 8 a.m. but it was normal for so many others. We saw the Beatles' LOVE Cirque de Soleil when we were there and it was absolutely amazing. I'd go again just to see it (well and maybe check out Freemont Street).

7. Violet (the colour, not the flowers). I love deep, rich purples. Always have. And violet is a colour that looks amazing on just about anyone. Which is fortunate since my skin is quite often some shade of purple (I'm a little accident prone).

8. Video games. Growing up, we never had video games. We had a couple of educational computer games, but no video game console. It wasn't until I started dating the Boy that I started really playing video games, and I don't care much to brag, but I'm pretty kick-ass at RockBand. He gave me a Wii for my birthday, so now video games are a pretty solid part of our relationship. Currently, I'm addicted to Fable II for the XBox. I dream about it.

9. Vases. I don't know what it is, but plants and vases send me into a frenzy. I can't go into Ikea without purchasing one of these two items, and if for some reason I do not return with one or the other (or both), it's cause for celebration. The ones to the right are from Ikea (I stole the picture from their website). I don't own them, but I kind of wish I did!

10. Vacation. Ahhh, sweet, sweet vacation. One week from now I'll be on an airplane, looking forward to a week off of work. Spending Family Day with my family. I can't even describe now much I'm looking forward to it. I've never been one for sunshine-soaked destinations, but lazy vacation is defintely where it's at.

There we go! I never thought I'd be able to think up 10. Thanks Brookem, for making me think on a Friday, and giving me reason to actually take a break during lunch on a busy day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's the Economy, Girlfriend!

I'm not a radical feminist. I believe in a woman's choice, in pretty much all sense of the word. I used to get into heated arguments where I'd subconsciously grab the hair and smack the bitches who suggested that any woman who didn't work for a living was going against everything feminists fought for. Um, I'm sorry, I thought they fought for equity and the right to be treated the same as everyone else, my bad. If a woman truly wants to stay home and raise her family, I say it's an important job like any other, and a decision that should be supported.

The thing that makes me angry is when any woman (or man for that matter, really) gets the whole entitlement attitude about them. This is precisely why this article made my blood boil. Sure enough, I probably should have let it go and not clicked on the blog. But I did. For the same reason that I continued going to my Feminist Philosphy classes. For some reason, I really like to be pissed off. I was hoping that there'd be some kind element to the girls that I could relate to, or even understand, but nope.

I can't stand the one who married a finance guy saying, "his friend told me that I need to support him and let him know I love him so he's not dead by 35... this is not what I signed up for". I can't stand the one from the conversation below, whining that her boyfriend won't take her on expensive trips because his wife is checking the finances.

Suddenly, I found myself being taken out less and less frequently. A recent argument went along these lines:
Me *pouting*: You haven’t taken me on a trip since we went to Bermuda in September. What’s going on?
Charles: Honey, finances are tight right now so my wife has taken it upon herself to check up on all of our accounts. She will notice any big expenditures.
Me *cute voice*: Wellllllllllllll, what are you going to do to make it up to me?
Charles: Can we talk later sweetheart? I’m really busy right now.
Me: No. Give me an answer NOW. Don’t you realize what you have? I’m way too hot to be treated like this.
Charles *yelling for the first time in our almost two-year relationship*: I’VE GOT TO FIRE TWENTY PEOPLE BY THE END OF THE WEEK. Z has four kids, X just had a baby girl, Y just sent his son to college and I’ve got to get rid of two of those guys… and you’re complaining about vacations and dinner? God, you are so 24! GROW UP!
Me *stunned*: Okie dokie, let’s talk later lover.

Girls who have this kind of "I'm so pretty, I deserve to be spoiled!" mentality make steam come out my ears. Really, that's the only reason why you're in this relationship or this marriage? And actually, in the marriage vows there's usually some kind of "for better or worse, for richer or poorer" line. Did you not mean them? It shows such a lack of compassion and lack of understanding on the part of these girls, who care more about bottle service and Bergdorfs than about the men who they're in the relationships with. Both the Boy and I have had our respective organizations talk about cutting jobs, and really, I'll be there for him no matter what happens, as I know he'd be there for me. I'm with him because of who he is, not because of his paycheque. I'm with him because of the qualities he has, the ones that wouldn't let him allow a situation like that to ruin him. The whole point of relationships is for them to be supportive, to love someone through good times and tough times.

These DABA girls, and the women who wrote in to them in support of their lifestyles and incessant whining, make all women look bad.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The moment that could have changed his life

I had initially planned out another post for today, ranting about society scum, but it can wait until tomorrow. I read this news story in the Edmonton Journal today and it broke my heart (what can I say, I'm a girl, I'm pretty much always on the verge of tears).

The gist of the story is that a homeless man with a brain injury found over $2,000 in unscratched lottery tickets and turned them in to the Western Canada Lottery Commission.

No reward was offered to Gillespie and he didn't ask for one.

"I just wanted to do the right thing," he said.


"This could have caused the government and others a lot of headaches, and I didn't want that."

For his trouble, he was given bus fare and a cup of coffee.

Awwww.

The comments are pretty awesome on this one, with people commenting about how sucky it is the WCLC didn't do something more than give him a bus ticket. Certainly it's not their place, but really, he could have scratched the tickets and won a lot of money on them. It's rare that you find such gems in society who try to do the right thing, it would be nice for them to reward such behaviour.

Karma definitely owes Mr. Gillespie big time.


Semi-related addition: Man looks back in shame at his panhandling past.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ouchie, ouchie, ouchie

One proud moment when reflexes cause the perfect deflection before wincing pain hits. A throb that feels deep purple, before eyes evaluate the damage. The reluctant hobble, attempting normalcy while clenching inside. Skin pulled tighter than duvet around body in the dead of Canadian winter. The unaccepting ache, a burning that doesn't cease when moving stops.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Not quite the first

I've already told the tale of my first kiss, but it's Monday Memories day, so I thought I'd share my second.

I went into tenth grade with a plan. The Ontario government had decided that it was doing away with OAC (grade 13) and that the year I finished highschool would be its last. This decision would result in a dramatic influx of students graduating my year, and because I am not fond of competition, I was going to get out fast. It would mean a lot of trickery, like taking my necessary grade 13 credits in grades 10-12 and taking grade 11 and 12 English at the same time. It would mean missing out on things that I would have liked to do, but that weren't necessary courses to take, such as photography and family studies (aka the class where you carry around the screaming doll). I wasn't in love with highschool, so the thought of getting out in four years rather than five worked for me.

Grade 11 English Writing (which I took that year, in grade 10) was quite possibly my favourite class ever. Mr. B was the most hilarious teacher, he once forced my grade 9 class to purposely snort while laughing just to send us on a laughter rollercoaster (once you start laughing at people snorting, the laughter is impossible to stop), he opted to have us act out the whole of Midsummer's Night Dream rather than doing any grammar, he plied my friend and I with chocolate-covered coffee beans when he spotted us in the hallways, and we had a class where we did nothing but turn out the lights and tell ghost stories. With my love of writing, and my adoration of him, this class was bound to be a success. I didn't even anticipate meeting my first "official" boyfriend there (more official than having your whole relationship last the length of recess, or longer, but without actually hanging out or talking, as was the style in elementary school).

Brent was a comedian with a sensitive side. We sat beside each other, spending much time reading Matt Good's manifestos, and chatting, and not quite so much time writing. This was fully acceptable in this class. I worked with Brent's ex-girlfriend. Customers constantly mixed us up, thinking that they had been talking to one of us when really it was the other, regulars would think one of us had been working the longest shift in the history of coffee-pouring, merely because we looked somewhat alike. It didn't hurt that we both had the hideous uniform and a ponytail. Sarah and I became fast friends, and it's only 900-and-something days until I'll be walking down the aisle at her wedding as her Maid of Honour, a job she bestowed upon me because "any trouble we got into we did it together, so I know you won't give yourself up and tell embarrassing stories about me!". She ended her relationship with Brent because she had a thing for one of his best friends, the man she'll be marrying in July of 2010.

Apparently, Brent saw the similarities in Sarah and I. As we started to hang out in a group, he started spending more time around my locker and wrote me love notes. One day, he had a pack of SweetTarts in class, and I took a blue one when he offered, telling him that they were my favourite. The next day, he brought me every last blue SweetTart that he had uncovered in the roll. It was the sweetest thing my 15 year-old self had ever experienced. It was young, dizzying, puppy love.

My aunt and uncle lived in town, and I'd stay there when I had to work in the morning, to save my parents the trip. It became routine that he'd walk me back to their place after hanging out with the gang. We flirted constantly, he poetically attempted to woo me, the only thing stopping us from being an out-and-out couple was the fact that he didn't have the nerve to break up with his short-term girlfriend. I know. Me, being the good girl I was, refused to let him make a move while she was in the picture.

Eventually, she found out that he liked me and took care of things for him. We were in the clear. The butterflies that had accumulated all of that time had been easy to tame with the constant reminder that he was taken, but now that there was nothing restraining us, those assholes were fluttering around all over the place. One night, he walked me "home" as per usual, stopping to kiss my hand and be his charming self, and we sat on my aunt and uncle's porch for hours talking. Hours. As the sky started to lighten, he finally got the nerve to place his lips on mine. And that's when the bathroom light went on and I nearly jumped out of my skin thinking my aunt or uncle would come outside looking for me. God forbid they find me outside kissing a boy! A couple sweet, innocent kisses later, I was sneaking into the house to catch a couple hours of sleep before work, completely infatuated.

Our little relationship didn't last long, as I don't take peoples' crap and he ended up being fluent in bullshit, but those moments of anticipation and innocent flirtation made my little heart beat, beat, beat.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Getting things done

I'm completely wiped from work this week so, unfortunately, it means my blog suffers today.

One good thing about today is that I signed up for a photography class so I will have some slotted time to play with my fancy-schmancy camera. Even better thing, I was eligible to claim it under my "learning account" at work. Hurray!

Just wondering, since I'm here, if you had your chance to attend an event on community, political, or business issues, what's an example of an event topic you'd be interested in? I'm just doing a little informal research for www.intervivos.ca. And by that, I mean my brain is fried, so I'm looking for suggestions for our event luncheons and mixers. All calls for event topics and/or speakers are welcome!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why I Relay

I must admit, before I interned at the Canadian Cancer Society cancer wasn't a bit concern of mine. I had very few people around me touched by this disease. I had never held the hand of someone I loved as they underwent chemotherapy or radiation. I had never had to see the health of anyone close to me deteriorate before my eyes. I had never seen the fight that survivors go through, or experience the victory when all signs of cancer have left the body.

The only real experience I had with cancer was when a girl in my elementary school died of the disease. And we weren't close. I chose the internship at the Canadian Cancer Society because it was good experience. Because the women who worked there were friendly. And because the City of London had decided not to take an intern, afterall. I knew I'd not only be a part of the public relations team at the office, but I would be the entire public relations team. You'd better believe that looks awesome on a resume.

I loved working at the Society. I got so involved in the cause that I started working extra hours, I started volunteering for events like Daffodil Days. I started hosting volunteer training sessions in the evenings. The women who worked there became my family. We didn't just share a job, we shared our lives, our stories, and in some cases, experiences with cancer itself. I met so many people who were in various stages of cancer treatment, so many survivors, and so many families and friends of both those who beat the disease and those who lost. These people changed my life.

I volunteered for the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life that year, and seriously guys, I never expected one event to touch me so deeply. When the cancer survivors started off Relay with the Survivors' Victory Lap, we cheered and applauded with tears in our eyes. Their victories were the victories of the thousands of people who showed up that night. Their victories were proof that cancer could, and will, be beaten. Their victories held hope for those who were recently diagnosed and their friends and families who put together teams to support them. It was an amazing high.

Later, at dusk, when the luminaries were lit around the track, casting a glow over the field as Amazing Grace rung out, friends and strangers united in their common grief. They lit candles to remember those who couldn't be at the event because their bodies weren't able to beat the disease. They lit candles in hope that those they loved would kick cancer's ass. They lit candles for friends, for family, for people they had never met. To walk around that track and feel the presence of all of those who lost their battles, to see the tears in everyone's eyes, to see friends and family grasp their loved ones tight in support, it was overwhelming. It no longer mattered that cancer wasn't overly close to me. What mattered is that we find a cure.

In 2008, it is estimated that approximately 166,400 new cases of cancer and 73,800 deaths would occur in Canada. That's an average of 3,200 Canadians diagnosed each week, and 1,419 Canadians who would die of cancer every week. Every one of us will be touched by the disease in our lifetimes, if not personally, then by dealing with the disease attacking a friend of family member.

Guys, I don't like to ask anything of you, but it would mean the world to me if you would pledge me for Edmonton's Relay for Life event this year. On the right sidebar, I have a link to my personal, secure page where, if you want to, you can make a donation. If you're in the area and want to join my team, give me a shout. The event is absolutely incredible and I encourage you to participate in an event near you (by the way, the Canadian event is based off of the ones done in the United States -- so even if you're not Canadian, you probably have one of these things taking place in your area).

Let's fight this disease for those who haven't been able to, for those who don't have the strength, for those who are too busy supporting their loved ones to have the energy. Let's make cancer history.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The one in which I am an angry bitch

Dear Spike TV/Nick Coles;

Seriously? You allowed this knob of a writer to completely bash incredible women on your site, while slowly backing away with the "this article does not represent Spike TV or its affiliates" mumbo-jumbo. The fact that you knew enough to include that little gem, shows how much you knew the article was wrong, degrating, and inappropriate.

Sara Ramirez, Drew Barrymore, Salma Hayak, America Ferrera, Mandy Moore, Liv Tyler, and Tyra Banks are not "the Top 7 Butterbodies" Nick Coles asserts them to be. He says these women have an obligation to be stick thin, no matter how unhealthy that actually can be, and that by parading any of them as "curvy" we're giving women an "excuse to be fat". Fuck you. Excuse my language, but I would like to smack Mr. Coles upside the head.

These women are under enough pressure from the media and society as a whole, being the celebrities that they are, they don't need to hear it from you. I wouldn't even consider any of them "fat", but I guess that's just me. These women may have the means for personal trainers, but it doesn't mean they have the time. Filming TV shows, movies, making appearances, going on press tours, it's not easy work. It means long days. You know how some days you are exhausted and want to head home and spend some time either relaxing or with your family? Yeah, they probably do the same.

The fact that you even equate celebrity with the need to be stick thin disgusts me. When celebrities do give in to the Hollywood need-to-be-thin thing, the media turns on them and suggests eating disorders, calls them skeletons and demeans them yet again. It's jerks like Mr. Coles who spawn these issues with body image and eating disorders -- Nicole Richie, Kate Bosworth and Calista Flockhart are all good examples. Not to mention the fact that holding celebrities to these impossible standards has an effect on young girls' body image as well.

But do women lash out about the men in Hollywood and the male celebrities who clearly let their bodies go? How much backlash did Joaquin Phoenix, Jack Nicholson, Jack Boy George, or even Jared Leto receive when they were not "celebrity thin". If you truly believe that "celebrities are not like normal people" and "its their job to look fit and hot", what excuse do you give for the men? Why don't you feature them in your article? Have you seen Phoenix lately?

Quite frankly, I feel sorry for any women in your life who suffer the ridiculous standards you hold them to.

Love, Me
xoxo

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new President, a new era

As I huddled with others into a coworker's office this morning to listen to the inaugural address of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America, I could not help but notice the stark contrast between him and his predecessor.

Instead of a man who talked about a country binded by fear, on a day which seems like it was not all that long ago, we heard a man who talked about the hope of America. The goodness of the people. The unity of a country that would reach out to those in need. A man who admitted that the road ahead will not be easy, but who called upon his nation to work together.

It was amazing. It was moving. It was about time. It's a good thing not only for the people of the United States of America, but for the world.

I encourage everyone to read the full text of Mr. Obama's address here, in case you weren't so lucky to see it this morning.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear Facebook: Oh no you didn't!

Facebook likes to recommend friends for people, as anyone who subscribes to the social networking site knows. It also likes to rub old relationships, and old friendships, in our face. As well-intentioned as Facebook is, it just has no idea of the reasons why I'm not friends with Leah T.

To be honest, neither do I, really.

We were best friends in grades nine and ten. We were enrolled in nearly all the same classes, and we were both pretty smart and fairly shy, which was probably why we were drawn together. We didn't drink. We had sleepovers. We watched Much Music, back when it was all about the music and less about the reality programming. She lived down the road from my great aunt and uncle. We shared lunch hours and a locker. We went to dances together to gush over boys we were crushing on and bop awkwardly while boys asked us to dance, or we got up the nerve to ask them.

Somewhere along the lines, I got a bit more outgoing and picked up friends in a different crowd through work and she found more smart, shy people in art class. No big deal. We were still best friends, and nothing could change that, right? That's what I thought, until the day a boy came between us.

No, no, it wasn't like that. It wasn't necessarily the boy that came between us per se, it was more our attitudes toward boys. I was of the opinion that boys were lame and didn't pick up on subtle hints that you were into them, and she was of the opinion that letting a boy know that you liked him would result in a fate worse than death. She had a thing for this cute blond boy in our grade, and wouldn't shut up about him. After a while, I got sick of the whining about how he never took an interest in her and so I did the good best friend thing, I chatted him up casually to see if he was interested.

A mutual friend had overheard me and put two and two together, and went to ask Leah if she was into him. And that was the last day that Leah talked to me. I explained myself, and neither of us ever did find out if he was into her or not, but she never forgave me. They remained friends, but we didn't. I was heartbroken. I was also outraged. She always had such similar advice to boys that I was into, telling me to put myself out there and whatnot, and not only was she afraid to do the same but she was willing to end our friendship because of it? Ridiculous. She moved her stuff out of the locker, and after a while I quit trying to talk to her.

Facebook, I don't want to be friends with Leah T., as interested as I am to find out where she is and what she's done with her life, I'm pretty certain she's still not over it. Thanks for trying, anyway.

This post is part of my new feature "Monday Memories".

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'd totally turn down the 'best job in the world'

One of the bigger stories of the week, pre-US Airways' crash into the Hudson River, and less big than Obama's upcoming inauguration, was Australia's declaration that they are offering one lucky winner the best job in the world.

Though getting paid to go to Australia, scuba the Great Barrier Reef and take pictures of the whole experience while blogging about it to the Internets sounds none too bad, it's not what I would consider the best job in the world. The sun is not my friend. The heat: not my friend. I'm not really a beach person because these two elements are usually pretty major on a beach. Blogging, taking pictures, and enjoying yourself on a beach can be a good time, but if it becomes your job it no longer holds the vacation appeal. Your job performance depends on someone elses' opinion of how well you do these things. Of how much fun you have on your "vacation" so you can sell it to other people.

I would like to invent my own dream job. World-wide wine taster. Travel the world to gorgeous places, sit and dive into bottles of the good stuff (some of the best stuff) while chatting the night away with winery owners and wine makers. Delicious food, delicious scenery, delicious wine = perfection.

Sure, Australia, I'd like to come to you for the perfect job, but maybe instead of Hamilton Island can you find me something in the Barossa region?

Please? I'll take in pictures and blog about it for free!


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book ME in: my first review of 2009

When I was just a little girl, I thought I was more of a cat person than a dog person. I’d spend hours while pretending to do my chores, mainly focused on playing with the kitties and searching out new ones in the barn. They’d get so tame, that if you went pick up a bale, they’d scurry on to it to get your attention; or you decided to sit down for a rest, they’d climb right up on to you. I was personally hurt when my brother took to torturing the poor things, swinging them around by their tails and whatnot.

When my sister scoured the want ads and listened to “Swap Shop” on the radio religiously to find a suitable dog for the farm, I wasn’t too interested. When “Katy” arrived on the scene, I was annoyed that I couldn’t run barefoot on the lawn, or lay outside without the slobbering Collie all over me. She was a dumb dog. She stood in the middle of the road and barked at traffic. She climbed up the stairs on to the school bus. She got hit by tractors, the slowest moving vehicles on the planet. I was not her biggest fan.

When a lovable Golden Retriever/Labrador cross took her place; however, I changed my tune. Nelly was (and still is, as far as I know) a beautiful dog. A hot blonde. Gentle, more intelligent, so adorable that everyone in the family began giving her treats for the hell of it. If I decided to lay in the grass, she’d sit beside me with her tail thump-thump-thumping away.

It’s because of Nelly that Marley and Me by John Grogan was such a wonderful reading experience. It was easy to relate to the demeanor of Labs, the way the Grogans fell in love with the little pup, the unconditional love when Marley devoured the house and failed out of dog training. While our experiences with our beloved family pets were quite different, I couldn’t help but love this tale.

Before I start to gush too much, I feel the need to inform everyone that I haven’t seen the movie. A co-worker loaned me the book with her own story about how tears sprung to her eyes at opportune moments, warning me that if I was a crier (which I totally am) I was doomed. I don’t know if it was the fact that I carried this book around everywhere with me on the off chance that I’d get to read a couple pages here and there that prevented me from tearing up at the end of the story or not, but I didn’t cry. However, the fact that I wasn’t moved to tears didn’t ruin my impression of the novel.

Marley and Me is a relatable story about the impact a family pet can have on your life. Certainly, for anyone who had a dog growing up, or has one now, it’s easily to nod your head as you read about the trials and tribulations the Grogans face with Marley. Though we all come from different backgrounds, different family situations, and experiences, Marley and Me is the type of story that brings people together. This is probably why when John Grogan wrote the obituary for his pet in the paper he worked at, he received more calls, e-mails and letters than he had for any other piece of his career.

I spoiled it, but c’mon, you had to know that was coming.

Do yourself a favour, pick up Marley and Me and remember your own favourite childhood pet as the story unfolds.

This was my first book review over at Book Me In. Thanks guys, for letting me join in as a contributor, I look forward to doing a review of each book I read this year. Also, I want a dog now. Please, Boyfriend, please?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I dare you...

It wasn't far into my grade nine year when I developed a crush on Shep. He was cute, incredibly nice, and absolutely hilarous. The boy that everyone liked.

He was a friend to everyone and didn't have a malicious bone in his body. He was a flirt. As we became good friends, working together and hanging out, the crush part stayed in the background, though the feelings that I had for him (and those that he had for me) were never acted upon. We were never available at the same time, such a dramatic and tragic tale in the world of highschool.

The girls he started dating hated the fact that we were friends and surmissed that at any time, we'd realize we were head-over-heels for each other and they'd be left in the dust. At least, that's how it seemed when they commanded him to stop talking to me. He never did. He was just sneakier about it. It floored me that girls I had known since the sandbox and building blocks now saw me as a threat. The same girls that ran away from me and mocked me in elementary school were terrified that I'd snag their man out from under them.

One even went so far as to get her posse to follow me around the halls. He was sick one day, so stayed home from school and they followed me around thinking that I might bail and meet up with him. Um, no. They called him from the school pay phone, and in their fakest, sickenly sweetest voices, informed me that he wished to speak with me.

"What's going on? You wanted to speak with me?"

"Um, no, they said you wanted to speak with me!"

"They think something's going on with us, I think we're being monitored."

I looked behind me at the smiles smeared over their sneers and agreed this was the case.

Then came the school dance. Getting dropped off at the doors, to walk with ease past the security guards. Neither me, nor my friends drank in grade nine, we had no fear of their breathalyzers. And he asked me to dance. I no longer remember the song, but I remember the angry grimace on his girlfriend-of-the-moment's face. I remember him whispering to me about how controlling and crazy she was, and that he wanted to be my friend, so gosh darnit he was going to be my friend regardless of how she felt about it.

They broke up soon after, and my crush blossomed. He was a great friend, we'd have amazing talks about everything under the sun, and he defended my honour when it was needed. For a highschool girl, he was perfection.

We never talked about the rumours. We were just friends, after all.

It wasn't until a end-of-the-year bonfire at one of our other friends' house that there was even a glimmer of it being anything more. After roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire, someone came up with the bright idea to play truth or dare. A friend was dared to jump into the lake. "Would you rather?" questions were answered. And then it was his turn to "truth or dare" someone.

He picked me.

He stammered, and was it just me, or was he blushing? Maybe it was the light of the bonfire. No big deal. He baulked. People urged him to get on with it. I picked dare.

"Elle... I dare you... *ahem*...

I rubbed my hands together in the warmth of the fire, trying to suppress my own heated cheeks. Looking at my shoes, wondering what torturous thing he would make me do. Hopefully not jump in the lake.

"I dare you... to kiss me."

My eyes popped open, and I'm sure my jaw dropped. There were maybe only four or five other people at this "party", but really... my first kiss in front of all these people? My heart started beating faster, my cheeks got rosier, my stomach was just swarming with clich├ęd butterflies. It was my turn to pause. And attempt to remember how to breathe.

"If you don't want to, you don't have to."

"It's okay, a dare's a dare... I'll do it."

I walked over to him, grabbed his face, and gave him a chaste peck on the lips.

Though we were friends long after that, that was the most to ever happen between me and my first highschool crush. So much drama for so little story.


This post is for the 20-Something Bloggers' January blog carnival: First Kiss.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quote of the day: heroes and she-roes

"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!" Maya Angelou

I've already discussed one of my "she-roes" in detail on this blog. That would be the Mamma. There are no famous people that I aspire to be like, or that I idolize. I admire Margaret Thatcher's tenacity, and the sauciness of women like Katharine Hepburn and Mae West. But that's about as far as it goes.

The women that I count as she-roes are merely women that I have come across in my daily life who are pretty damn amazing. They don't have assistants, they won't ever be seen on the front of the tabloids, and they are usually underappreciated and overworked.

They've been women who have restarted their lives from the ground after fleeing from an abusive relationship. They've been women who seem to have found the perfect work/life balance; being extraordinary PR gurus while being involved in the lives of their babies, too. They've been women who were single mothers while getting their own business off the ground, battling everything themselves and succeeding. They've been women who have done all of these things on their own, only to find love later and stay independent ass-kicking rockstars. They've been women who have always had a kind word for me, or have made themselves available when I've needed advice. They've been women who have encouraged me to follow my dreams, even if it meant leaving my comfort zone.

Since it's apparently national de-lurking day at some point this week (I've seen blogs say yesterday and others say today), come out of the woodwork and leave a comment about one of your own heroes or she-roes.

Also, while you're at it, check out http://www.intervivos.ca/, I write over there too. interVivos is Edmonton-based but it doesn't mean that you can't comment from anywhere in the world. Today's blog is about Canadians (but also applies to Americans, or anyone else) losing faith in politics.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pictures to Burn

Lately, old memories have been rushing to me like ocean tides. People who have come in, and out of, my life. Experiences that I had, or wished I hadn't. So, like any normal person, I've decided to broadcast them on the Internet for everyone to see, in a feature of "Monday Memories".

Many people know that I worked in a popular Canadian coffeeshop for 7 long years, but what most people don't know, and what I frequently forget, is that it wasn't my first real* job.

The summer before highschool, I remember being told that there would be no more money coming to me for clothes, and other things parents buy for you when you're young. I'd be given a monthly stipend for my work on the farm, though I was encouraged to seek employment elsewhere to cover any new costs I'd incur.

So started my first job hunt. Resumes and cover letters passed throughout the town. My first experience with being offered every job I applied for, which would cause a lot of confusion later on, when jobs didn't come so easily. When I went to drop off my resume at the bakery in town, I was immediately offered a position. And I took it.

Walking past the little restaurant in my work building this morning, the smell of fresh-baked bread brought images of the bakery flooding back. I did everything but actually bake anything. Long days of washing dishes, serving customers, stocking the shelves. I was the only employee, other than the owners (who did all the baking and none of the other work). A lot of responsibility from open 'til close, with unattractive pay. A job that resulted in tears, and a discussion with my mother that it was probably time to look elsewhere, even if the owners were friends of family friends.

It was just one summer, but it was my first foray into working for a boss that you couldn't curse and cry and scream at when you felt your job was "not fair". It felt good to have money of my own, and buy things for myself. It also taught me that dreading going to work every day wasn't worth it. I searched around for other employment, and got in with Canada's largest coffee chain, a job that was with me for nearly one-third of my life.

*Real meaning someone paying me other than my parents. Growing up on a farm, you'd better believe we had our own jobs to do. We were given tasks that matched our abilities at a very young age.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Interviewed!

The lovely Andrea from Miel et Cannelle, fellow Edmontonian, has sent me some tricky interview questions as part of this interview meme that has been circulating through the blogosphere. As if I didn't ramble on enough about myself already, she's given me fodder to continue. Thanks Andrea, for your great questions. If anyone else is interested, let me know. I can't promise my questions will be as great as Andrea's (she does work for SEE magazine), but I'll try my best.

And the rules are:
1. If you want to participate, leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” (And your e-mail address, please.)
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions
Here we go!

1. You've been talking about giving a wine and cheese party... if you could invite 5 bloggers, who would be your guests and why?? Who do you think would eat the most cheese or drink the most wine?

A Facebook event has officially been created for my wine and cheese party. Bloggers who I'd invite include (but are most certainly not limited to):

Andrea, from Miel et Cannelle: You're in the city already, so it'd be easy to attend. I'm intrigued by your blog and find you to be an interesting lady. A bottle or ten of wine and we'd certainly hit it off. Enough wine and we may be hallucinating that we're in the fantasy land you speak of in your post today.

Mary, from Real Mary Tales: I spent many, many nights in London (and a few in Edmonton for that matter) drinking with Ms. Mary. I don't think she could keep up with the wine all night, (she'd probably pull some hard stuff out of her bag), but oh the cheese that would be consumed! Also, Mary always has entertaining, and incredibly humiliating, stories about herself to keep party guests entertained.

Ben, from No Ordinary Rollercoaster: His readers love cheese, they're crazy about the stuff. I haven't been reading Ben's blog for long, but he's hilarious and an awesome storyteller. This post is the only reason I need.

Rachel, from Confessions of a Jersey Girl: Rach needs a drink. Have you seen the drama that is her life? I'd like to give her a break for just one night.

Kyla, from Kyla Bea: Kyla's a total sweetheart. Not only does she have mad champagne pouring skills (I promise I wouldn't put you to work, darling), but she would be the best person to have around in the event that you drink too much. Also, she's had some pretty incredible experiences and would make excellent conversation.

Drink the most wine: Would I be cheating if I said it'd probably be me? Most cheese: Ben. He'd simply have to, for his readers' sake.

2. You live in a chilly city come winter - what are your tips/tricks/indulgences for beating the cold and staying chipper?

Hot chocolate and Baileys. Coffee and Baileys. A travel mug full of tea for the walk home (warm drinks are awesome at keeping you that much warmer). Making the decision to either hide inside and avoid the cold altogether, by snuggling up in a blanket or by rocking out with some Rock Band, or to embrace the cold by hitting the mountains (where it's warmer than Edmonton). Getting friends together to go tubing is also super fun, it's hard to complain too much when you're laughing and carrying on.

3. Your city is incredible in the summer - what are you favorite spots to frequent in the summer warmth, and why?

I love the Legislature in the summer. It's transformed into most people's version of the beach. Alberta's beaches are not so awesome, so it's probably a pretty decent substitute. I love to go down there with a book, sit in the shade and people watch. I adore the outdoor market on 104 Street, just north of Jasper Ave. Fresh fruits and veggies, jewelry, baked goods, crafty awesomeness -- with a cold drink it's absolute summer bliss. Though, my absolute favourite spot in the summer, is my apartment balcony. With assorted herbs and flowers potted there, the barbeque, and my little patio set, it's an excellent place to relax with a book, glass of wine or dacquiri to wind down the day. Also, when there are parades down Jasper Ave., it's the perfect parade-watching locale. Oh how I will miss it. *sigh

4. It (being your profile) says you're in communications. What do you do? Do you like it?
I'm a writer (for now). I've done the whole news release writing, speech writing, media planning, campaign-creating aspect of public relations, and I love it. At this point, I've won as many awards in the field for as many years I've been in it. I tend to forget that. As much as I talk about myself a lot on here, I suck at talking myself up in person. I used to work for the Canadian Cancer Society in London as the entire PR team, it was absolutely amazing. I keep my PR skills strong by volunteering with interVivos, a group which brings together business people, politicos, community leaders with young professionals to inspire the next generation of leaders in Edmonton.

5. I've been told that Canadians, and specifically Albertans, are salty snackers, not sweet. What kind of snacker are you? Have any recipes to share, homemaker among us?

Interesting, I've never heard that. I alternate between salty and sweet, I think. I'll give you my favourite cookie recipe. These are the ones most likely to end up in the mail to friends back home (or potentially anyone who I have an address for). Also, my mom just sent me the township's anniversary cookbook from back home, and apparently this is now in there. Ha.

Elle's Chocolate Fudge and PB Cookies
1 cup butter (soft)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups peanut butter chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar, beat eggs into mixture. Add dry ingredients (except chips). I usually add a little extra flour (makes them fluffier in the end). Mix in chips. Roll into balls, bake for 8-10 minuts at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Easy peasy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Duh" story of the day

A new survey has found most Canadians don’t think oilsands companies have done a good job balancing economic and environmental concerns. The study does show more than 40 per cent of Canadians have a positive overall view, compared with 30 per cent who have a negative outlook. The Canadian Association of Petroleum producers says they need to do a better job of engaging with the public and need to recognize and reduce the environmental impact of oilsands development. Water use and greenhouse gas emissions are listed as the top two environmental concerns. Print has picked up this story – headlines are calling it a “PR problem.”

Full story in the Edmonton Journal can be seen here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Air Canada is not awesome. Surprise!

In the news yesterday and today: Some Edmontonians have still not received their lost Christmas baggage from Air Canada. Air Canada is acknowledging it dropped the ball over the Christmas season and did not respond as it should have during the weather-related travel delays.

Big shock, Air Canada is garbage. Unlike the smiling West Jetters who have been known to care so much (my friend Mary upon arriving in Edmonton last year marvelled at how the flight attendant took the screaming baby and sang to it, nearly lulling the whole plane to sleep -- "just like in the commercial"), Air Canada is not so passenger-friendly.

I had my own heinous experience with them last year, without the whole snow-storms-so-flights-are-cancelled issue. I had gotten to the airport in tons of time, signed in, got to the gate before I realized I didn't have a real seat number on my ticket, but a smattering of numbers. When I went to talk to the attendants at the desk by the gate, they had responded, "Oh yeah, we were on the look-out for you -- someone will be around to talk to you soon." Soon ended up meaning after half the plane had boarded.

The airline rep who came to talk to me broke the news to me that I would not be getting on the flight that I had paid so ridiculously much to board. Apparently they always overbook by 40 per cent, so myself and two gentlemen who were landing in Toronto would be hanging around Edmonton until further notice. Seriously, at Christmas you don't take into account that less people will be missing or cancelling their flights last minute? We were told when the next planes going to Toronto were (the earliest was 8 hours away), and assured that we were most certainly not guaranteed a spot on those overbooked planes either.

The news I wasn't going to be home, coupled with the extreme exhaustion from going out the night before and working all day to run home, pack, and head to the airport, led me to shed a few tears. I'm a crier. I'm not going to deny it. I had to hope that my luggage filled with Christmas presents would actually meet me in Toronto, since there was space for it on the plane -- just not me. Then I had to inform the family that they should not drive the two hours to the airport to pick me up, because I had no idea when I'd be there.

The holidays are stressful enough, airlines should be more considerate around the holiday season. I understand it's important to overbook to an extent to pay for expenses if people do back out, but it's all about the attitude with which you handle a situation. West Jet spent loads of money putting people up, sending them home and picking them up for a future flight, and generally doing their very best to accomodate people and make them comfortable.

Other than the lame $200 voucher I received from Air Canada (which I couldn't use to book online, making the trip just as much as if I had just booked through West Jet in the first place), I haven't booked anything through Air Canada since.

Alberta's dinosaur bones recognized on the world stage?

Alberta's own Dinosaur Provincial Park is in competition for the "New 7 Wonders of Nature". See the full story here.

Dinosaur Provincial Park was named Canada's official entry for the contest, after beating Newfoundland's Gros Morne National Park, the Maritime's Bay of Fundy, Quebec's Rocher Perce and Ontario's Long Point Sand Spit during the first round of voting, which finished on Dec. 31.

The provincial park, which lies in the valley of the Red Deer River, is renowned as one of the great fossil beds in the world. Thirty-nine dinosaur species have been unearthed there, with more than 500 specimens removed and exhibited around the world. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.


To find out more about the contest, or cast your votes, the official website is http://www.new7wonders.com/.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy Oh Nine.

2009 is getting exciting. The year is already filling up fast with visits and events, and it's only six days in. I haven't even made any resolutions yet! Oh wait, I don't do that. I have goals, things I hope to accomplish, but I don't have anything that will result in being heartbroken or disappointed if things go off course.

This year, I plan on getting a new address book and keep it organized all proper. I love sending real mail, but it makes it less of a surprise when I have to ask the recipient for their address days before "surprises" appear in their mailbox. We get so tied up in the online world and the ease of connecting with people at any time, that we forget that technology is not the be-all and end-all of relationships. As we grow older, and people start to slow down the post-secondary, post-university moving around, it's good to keep track of people's addresses.

The year already includes going to the mountains yet again (somewhere different this time), hosting a wine and cheese party (it's been on the agenda for a while), going home for a visit, participating in the Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life, Kaye's (hopeful) summer stint in Edmonton, consolidating what I've accumulated in (by that time) what will be three years in the same apartment (the longest ever, since moving out of my parents' place), moving in with The Boy and paying off my student loan. As friends and family have received shiny rings over the holidays, there's bound to be some weddings in the mix at some point... unless they all hold off until 2010.

Oh, and next week, I'm stirring the pot at work with a new media analysis plan. Weee!

As your reward for reading through this post, here are some pictures of where I've been the past week.
Cochrane has the best ice cream ever. So creamy and delicious. What flavour did I get, you ask? Bubblegum. I'm a child.