Thursday, 29 September 2011

Movie or Book?

I almost always choose book.  I would say 95% of the time when there is a film adaptation I pick the book over it, even if I read the book after I've seen the movie.  This unofficial poll of my life is a little biased because I do not see that many movies, and I won't see movies of books I really really love in case they ruin them a little bit.  For example - I live in fear of the time when the "Atlas Shrugged" movie comes out.  It is one of the most influential books in my life and I hate to think of people being exposed to it only through a hollywood blockbuster movie, plus it defeats the purpose of the entire book to have it made into a stupid movie (especially because I once heard Angelina Jolie was supposed to play Dagny, and although I love Angelina in her own way, there is no way she could possibly capture Dagny, further proof that the people making the movie just don't get the point of the book).

But this book review is not about Atlas Shrugged, it is about "The Help: a novel" by Kathryn Stockett, which I have just finised reading but have not yet seen the movie.  The book was good, a cute idea for a story, a little intense at times, of course I cried, but I cry in practically every book I read so that is not a measure of success.  It wasn't eye opening so much as it made me think about how crazy a place the world really is, and was in the not very distant future.  I still want to see the movie, or if you've seen it let me know how it is, or if you've seen and read then let me know how they compare. 

Also - 11:41 - this here is a Thursday Morning Book Review.  You're welcome.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

I Wouldn't Bet on this Winning Idea

You may think that I waste my days away with napping and dog walking and half hearted internet job searches, but let me tell you, I have been working very hard this weekend to come up with this post for you.  By weekend, I mean Monday, I seem to have lost all track of what day it is and especially what number.  When people say things like, "Thursday the 29th" I forget what that means.....  I stare blankly and think, "Is that the 29th Thursday to ever occur?  How many weeks would that be?  No that is not enough for even one year....  maybe they started counting in the beginning of two thousand and whatever year we are in.....  Frick!"  I feel like a six year old in the middle of summer vacation.  I used to think my parents were super geniuses for being able to keep track of the days and weeks and months that happened between June and September.

The point of my story is not that my brain has devolved back to the state it was in twenty years ago.  The point of this story is I spent all day Monday at the horse races in Fort Erie to see if gambling is a viable source of income.  I reached the conclusion that no, it is in fact, not a good way to make money.  Over the entire afternoon I won $6.  Unfortunately I had to spend $16 to make my $6 making the day rather unprofitable.

Let me tell you about horse races.  I went with my Mom and Grandmother.  We had lunch beforehand and got to stay at our table inside to watch the races, this had the added bonus of being close to the betting station, air conditioning, and television screens to watch how close your horse was to winning.  When you are betting on horses you can bet that your horse will win the race, place (first or second), or show (top three).  I discovered I have a knack for picking the horse that will stay in first place throughout the entire race, no matter what length the race is, and then in the final seconds will drop back to fourth place, earning me only humilitation and defeat. 

Overall the day was a lot of fun, and if you somehow have both time and money to spare I would recommend it.  But fun was not what I went for.  I went to earn money and try to become a contributing partner in my marriage.  I failed horribly and miserably.  The only redeeming factor was that my Mom was on such a hot streak and in her delighted haze of winning picked up the tab for lunch. 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Love Me Lots!

I don't want you to think I'm begging for compliments or anything....  but I kinda am....

I have added little "love it" buttons to the end of all my posts and you should definitely take advantage of these to let me know what you love and what you hate.  I may or may not have already loved my own posts.  What I can say?  I think I'm hilarious! 

Try them out.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Rainy day reflections on what I am going to do with my life.... plus a cute puppy picture!

It has been raining all day and I've been sitting at home drinking coffee (damn you Steven and Chris, my coffee maker might have been free but cappucino refills certainly are not), watching horrible shows about babies being born, and harassing my husband, who is off being all lawyer-y and work-y.

Husband: "Stop calling me, I'm working"
Me: "Uhmm  okay I have barely called at all.  This is only my third phone call in ten minutes, so just settle down"
Husband: "I am in court, don't send me pictures of the dog looking sleepy."
Me: "O my gosh!  Look how sleepy the dog is now....  he will totally love this picture so much more than the one I just sent...."

I know...  super cute right?

So I decided to do something useful, which was brainstorm ideas on jobs I could do, if anyone was ever to offer me one.

I started with working for the TTC.  These people get benefits and vacation days and sick days and they strike and throw tantrums all for a lot of money.  I could totally do that.  I love whining!  It is a true passion of mine.  Actually I think I would also be good at working for any government organization because of this particular unique skill, although I am also a hard worker who gets things done on time and I am good with budgeting so maybe I wouldn't fit in afterall. 

Next I came up with mail delivery person.  I love walking.  Love!  I would bring my dog and we would be so happy walking around all day and carrying mail.  Plus I could read people's postcards, which is a definitely perk to working in that field.  I love things that aren't really any of my business, but are mostly harmless.

Then I started to think of other things I loved.  I think I would love to be a flight attendant so I could vacation lots.  I hit a small snag here.  First, I am too short.  Second, I am extremely terrified of flying.  But this naturally led me to another idea.  I want to be someone who reviews fancy hotels in the Carribean.  I want to go there and eat and drink and swim and tan and come home and write things like, "The sand was soft on my feet, and the all you can eat lobster was fantastic, but my cabana boy, although quite handsome, was a little slow on the margarita refills."  Yes, that is a fantastic job.

I would even do this for places not so exotic and warm.  For example, in Nowheresville Saskatchewan (I am familiar with the area because my father's family is from there), I could write, "I saw an appropriate amount of prairie dogs, I enjoyed my dinner but found the breakfast pancakes to be a little grainy.  While the beds were comfortable the decor fell a little flat."  hahahahaha  o god....  hilarious!!  Literary genius....  get it - prairies are flat, and they grow grain?!?!  Nobody??  Really?  Not even a smile?    

 .......................  I guess comedy writer is out then..............

Moving on - I would also be very good at a management level.  I am the oldest sibling in my family, so I have tons of experience being bossy and controlling.  I think I could manage the hell out of anything, if someone would give me a chance.  Unfortunately "manage the hell out of anything" doesn't seem to be making my resume more appealing.  That and the lack of any real experience managing seem to be working against me.

I guess my job search continues.  If you have any bright ideas for me please let me know.

Also - I checked my stats counter and while my blog seems to be doing terribly awful at best I would like to give a shout out to the 14 people from Russia who have apparently checked in this week.  I admit, I felt like an international blogging super star!  My sister said people were probably trying to find work in Canada and I tricked them into checking my blog with my misleading key words.  Excellent, exactly what I am hoping for!!  Next I just need to trick someone into hiring me for a job.  Preferably something in management, involving travel and walking, and I wouldn't mind benefits thrown in. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Elsa the Lioness and other strange things about my life....

I guess I will have to rename this "Thursday Afternoon Book Review" but something about a morning near the end of the week to snuggle up and read my reviews of bizarre and obscure books about nothing seems like a nice thought.  I will try harder for you next week.  For now, just relax, make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy my review.

My book this week is "Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds" by Joy Adamson.  Basically, when I go to the library I make sure I have lots of spare time and then I just wander the shelves, never in the same area, picking and choosing as I go.  Sometimes stopping to read entire books, sometimes knowing from the title that I have to read one.  This one I saw and walked past because it reminded me of Jonathon Livingstone Seagull, which was a little too much for me.  But the picture on the front cover pulled me in and I read a little bit and decided to give it a chance.

The book is about Elsa, who is adopted as a baby cub by the author Joy and her husband George, who live in Africa and do some sort of game control/travelling/animal sight seeing.  It all sounds very glamourous, especially since Africa is at the top of my "To Visit" list.  So they raise baby Elsa from a tiny cub into a lioness who is over 300 pounds.  If you love true stories about animals without a sad ending and breathtaking pictures (my fav, 300 pound Elsa lounging in a camp bed that she shared with Joy in their tent) then this book is for you.  This book is beautiful and was apparently the beginning of a movement for better treatment for animals.  In the end she wants to go free, and being responsible foster parents Joy and George let her in a way that keeps all of them together as a family. 

Borrow it from the library, if only to see the pictures, and then you can fantasize about moving to Africa and having your own baby lion cub to raise and love.  Do you have a favourite animal book that won't make me cry? 

Next week, I will try to be up and motivated early enough to get this done in the morning.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Punch in the Face #2

This Punch in the Face blog post was alternatively going to be titled: "Why Unemployed Bored People With A Stupid Blog About Being Unemployed And Bored Should Not Be Allowed To Have Cameras On Their Phones"  You'll see why.....  I went with the shorter and less rambling title, but thought the other was so clever I should share it with you anyway.  Now on to the face punching.

This one is for the passive aggressive people in my neighbourhood.  First, let me share a little story with you.  In university I shared a house with five other people.  One was my friend, the other four we didn't really know, even though we lived together for two full years.  We had a fun little blackboard in our kitchen where me and my friend would write fun little countdowns until Reading Week, or cheery good morning messages.  But, frequently, we would wake up to long notes about things we had done wrong, "You can't have a party this weekend", "The dishes weren't done", "The house isn't clean" "You are ruining my life and I hate living with you".  You could go to bed and say good night to everybody in the house and everything would be fine, but in the middle of the night someone would sneak out to the god awful blackboard and write notes of suppressed rage.  I am all for being passive, a harboured grudge for many years I fully support.  I am also supportive of aggression to a certain extent, not wife beating, but fights that clear the air and make you say horrible unforgiveable things and lead to sobbing through the entire next day.  But put the two together and it kills me.

So here is the reason for this sudden outburst at people who I know will not react or write in to tell me I am wrong, but who will instead start their own blog and support group for passive aggressive reactions and how some people just don't understand....

Welcome to Toronto.  Passive aggressive behaviour is in the air every where here, you can catch it faster than stomach flu if you aren't careful.  It is bred into children the way other cities teach maners.  I present to you my real life example - tired of people putting dog crap in your outdoor garbage container or green bin?  However could you solve this problem?  Here's an idea......

Yes, a fake dog with "NO" written on him pooping in your garden.  I am glad the "NO" was added, it is my favourite part.  In case you thought that fancy decoration was in fact an invitation to use their property as an animal toilet.  You know what I would prefer to having to see this in front of my house every morning?  Dog shit in my garden.  Yes.  I would prefer that strangers dogs just did their business in front of my house occasionally rather than ever EVER putting this in front of my house.  Do their friend's ever comment on it?  "O my, what an original display."  "What an innovative way to solve a problem"  I am seriously at a loss, was it piling so high they had no choice but to resort to such desperate measures?

In shocking news, the same person who has the lawn decoration also has this on their garbage can.  The fine print says, "Thank you for respecting our property".  The hilarious part is this sits about one inch away from their fenced in driveway.  Presumably the fence opens and closes, and could in fact open and have a garbage can conveniantly on wheels be wheeled inside, and then the fence could close and keep out people who keep filling this garbage container with dog waste.  Who thought this was the best way to deal with this problem?  I guess the same person who thought they should put a little plastic pooping dog in their garden.

Are you ready for more?  Good, I have so much more......

A lovely walk down a quiet street in the city....  but wait, what is that hanging from the tree support?  Could it possibly be? 

YES!!!!!!  YES IT IS!!!!!!  A bag of dog poo!!!!!!!!  Hanging in front of their house.  This is not even the  shocking part.  The most shocking part is that it has been hanging there for over a week.  This is beyond disgusting to me.  I love seeing this and inventing a story.  A responsible dog owner picks up their dog's business in a little bag, then sees a green bin sitting out on the sidewalk.  Rather than continue to carry excrement they simply drop it it in the green bin, where they assume it will be composted.  But, NO, instead it is dragged out of the green bin, and hung for the world to see.  Do these home owners think someone is coming back to claim it?  Someone will say, "o that is my dog crap, dear me I should not have put that in their green bin" and then they will take it home to their very own green bin (as directed, of course). 

Question - was it deposited in this lovely clear bag or did they transfer it to a clear bag so it was more obviously recognisable? (that is insane, you say, but did you forget these are the same people who have had a bag of poop hanging in their front yard for over seven days!?)  Next question - how do all of these people know people have used their garbages and green bins?  Do they take inventory of their garbage every day?  Is it categorized and itemized so they can immediately recognize a foreign substance? 

I thought that would be my last example and I was on my way home to write this all up for you when I saw this is my parking garage.....

There is so much drama, all the underlining and caps....  I can hardly handle it.  AND the beginning is so Big Brother-esque, it is one of the most intense signs I have ever read.  I am terrified my well behaved puppy will one day lift his leg in the parking garage and the next morning I will wake up with a rat cage on my face.

Here I will finally end this post - but fellow Torontonians, I issue a challenge to you, next time you go to nail a bag of waste to a pole in your front yard, think to yourself, "Is this really the most effective way to deal with this problem?" and if the answer is yes then by all means carry on.  The ball is in your court now, or the shit's on your lawn so to speak.....

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

How to Avoid Being Homeless

This should not be a shock to anybody, but, being jobless equals being broke.  This is depressing news for me.  I have had to make some serious budget cuts lately, non-essentials like Brita filters (I still use the container for water, and I keep it in the fridge, if you ever come to my house and ask for a drink of cold water and I pour it from my Brita, it is absolutely not filtered, just cold.  I haven't had a filter in that thing for at least a year.), nice shampoo,  o and most food....  The dog is currently more expensive to feed every month than I am.

Speaking of weekly budgets, I once survived 8 months on a $10 a week food budget.  People often laugh when I tell them this and either humour me or interrogate me on how this is possible.  I lived next to a Food Basics, so my groceries were very cheap.  I was also working part time as a daycare teacher - I was underpaid but had plenty of spare time to shop for deals.  My weekly shopping list looked something like: loaf of bread, 2L milk (every 2 weeks), peanut butter (once a month), bag of apples, any vegetable which was on sale/slightly rotten (except cucumbers, even on this rediculously low budget I was never hungry enough to eat a disgusting cucumber).  That's correct, absolutely no fruit variety, no meat, and no Starbucks cookies, this was a very dark time in my life.  For a treat I would go to the Bulk Barn and pick up about 50 cents of candy.  I didn't even have enough money to pretend I had come for something else and happened to get this little tiny bag of candy along with it.  No.  My life really was this sad and pathetic.

Sad and pathetic is exactly where I am going with this post.  To escape homelessness there are not very many options when you have no job and no money.  You can try to get a bank loan, but apparently when you are out of school and have no job and no prospects and have been hanging around like a bum for the last four years the bank is not totally supportive of this.  You can move back home with your parents, if they will have you, but this is only if you are incredibly brave or incredibly stupid (love you Mom!).  You can try to hang out at your friends' houses, hoping they won't notice when you bring a very large suitcase and never leave.  Or, this summer I did something that might seem a little extreme, please hear me out, it has been working out quite well for me.

In the middle of June I quit my job.  July 9th I got married.  July 10th I had this conversation with my brand spanking new husband.

This is before I told him he had to pay my rent....

Me: o.....  by the way....  I don't exactly have money for rent this month.
Husband: what?
Me: yea, so now that we're married I assumed you could take care of rent for me.  I mean it would be a little embarassing for you to have to explain to our friends and family that you share our apartment with the dog and I'm currently looking for somewhere more affordable.
Husband: seriously?
Me: Yes.  Thanks.  O and sweetie, it was due on the first, so you're already 9 days late.  Might as well pay for August while you are at it.

Don't get me wrong.  I am very happy to be married, and can't wait to spend the rest of my life with my husband, especially since I know our life together will always include a roof over my head.  I urge you to consider this option carefully, it sure beats living in a homeless shelter.  I have been doing the dishes more frequently to try and offset my financial dependence on him.  I feel this is a fair trade off.

Once while I was waitressing a little old lady told me, "Always remember dear, the first time you marry it's for money, the second time is for love.  Something to think about anyway.....

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Very First Blog Face Punch

Let me tell you a long and rambling story about my night tonight.  The task was simple, get from Yonge and Eg to Dundas and Spadina on the TTC.  For those of you who are unsure, this should be a simple subway/streetcar combo.  Instead the subway is shut down between Bloor and Eglinton this weekend, so I boarded a bus, but it was obviously the wrong bus.  At Davisville I switched to the right bus.  Unfortunately, although going in the right direction it was a very very wrong bus for me.  The teenage boy beside me promptly got a nosebleed, causing blood to gush all over this very very crowded bus.  Rather than help, his group of friends laughed hysterically (this is not their fault, I'm sure we all would have done the same thing to our friends).  Finally a stranger gave him a kleenex and the situation seemed to be mostly under control (except for the blood that was still gushing, but at least it was rather more contained). 

Then the man next to me casually asked the time.  I had my phone out because I had already started texting to say I was going to be late for dinner, although I had left ample time.  I told him it was 5:15.  End of conversation.  Nope, it was not the end.  It was only the beginning.  He asked me if he could ask something personal, I ignored him, he asked me how long three trillion years was and if I could imagine such a thing (is it odd that I was insulted that he didn't ask me out?  remember when I mentioned my self esteem needing a boost?).  This three trillion year, one sided conversation obviously turned into a still one sided conversation about the enigma of god and how little people understand that the world was not created in 6000 years, and of course Stockwell Day....  This naturally led him to talk about the city of Toronto and how it is the third largest in the entire world after New York and Tokoyo.  I almost corrected him, but then I got a hold of myself and continued to ignore him.

Next stop - the subway.  God forbid the shuttle bus just continue south.  We all got off again and headed to the subway (except for bleeding boy who, last I heard of him, was shouting for the nearest bathroom).  Subway two stops, rather uneventful, I got off a stop early so as not to tempt fate.

I waited for the streetcar and it came quickly and was mostly empty, I took a seat beside a friendly looking man.  This was all going far too smoothly.  Not to worry - next on came the homeless guy with all of his belongings overflowing from a pushcart, which he stopped beside me.  Bring it on TTC, I have smelled far worse on your disgusting streetcars.  I stayed in my spot, even though I got hit several times with a large garbage bag containing indescribable objects.  Homeless man got off soon.  Then it was my stop.  I got up and walked calmly to the back doors.  No problem.  Then, without reason, a man in the back of the streetcar decided it was absolutely crucial for him to exit from the front of the car instead of the back with everybody else.  He started pushing through and elbowed me directly in the head, seemingly without noticing.  To make sure that he did in fact notice I shouted, rather loudly, "OWWW" while rubbing my head to get my point across.  He mumbled a sorry on his dash to the front. 

I did make it to dinner shortly after this, so all was not lost.

But here is why the TTC is getting a punch to the face.  For starters this wasn't an unusual trip, it happens every fricking time I ride the TTC.  But it is more than the ineffective service.  It is a combination of this, and the complete disregard for hygiene and cleanliness, along with the rude and cranky drivers and ticket collectors, the overpriced and underwhelming system, the fact that they have recently put up "we love safety" signs all over the place and yet they let their bus drivers do drugs and kill people, the fact that it is one of the least effective transit systems I have encountered in all the world, that Adam Giambrone couldn't even finish reading his withdrawal from the mayoral race without sobbing like a baby (not sure why this bothers me so much, but it does), the fact that one time I really really needed to spend $10 for 4 tokens and a collector absolutely refused to sell me less than 5 for $12.50 and I was super broke and had no change and instead choose to ride my bike home in the rain.  For all of these reasons I am dedicating my first punch in the face to the TTC.  Well deserved.  I hope it causes a bloody nose at least as explosive as the one I already saw tonight.

Sunday Morning

I am sick and up far too early on this Sunday morning. I am up because I am babysitting this morning. I am babysitting because OSAP expects a payment next week and I needed a job that paid cash quickly. Babysitting seemed like the safest and most moral choice, so here I am.

This is what I came up with to entertain you on this lovely Sunday morning.  Go check postsecret.  That's always part of my Sunday routine.

The end.

Enjoy sleeping off your hangovers!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Balcony Garden

First - I was going to take today off from writing because it is Saturday.  Then I remembered every day is Saturday to me!  And I had a horrible nightmare last night that I have to share. 

When my husband Jesse and I first moved in together my Mom gave us a little plant.  Our love plant (he doesn't know that I've call it this and have come to superstitiously believe it symbolizes our love and relationship, god help us all if it dies).  Which, three years later, is miraculously still alive.  I am not known for my gardening skills, in fact I am known for my lack of gardening skills.  I was once described as having a 'brown thumb'.  Pretty much any plant that comes too close to me dies. 

Despite this, I often have ambitious dreams of gardens, flower and vegetable even strangely citrus fruit gardens where people will marvel at how I have managed to help them survive in such an inhospitable climate.  Okay, I have one over the top fantasy where I am never employed but instead turn a giant backyard into a vegetable garden and am able to grow all of my own food.  I then turn into a 1950s housewife and learn to can and make preserves and homemade baby food (also in this dream I have a lovely little troupe of children who enjoy homemade preserves not McD's).  I see now this is rather unrealistic, especially since my only gardening space is my balcony.

I have had some recent gardening success.  My love plant has not died.  I have had a bamboo for about a year that is still going strong.  I have also had a baby tree for a year and a half that is only brown around the bottom, so I still have faith it might make a comeback.  Inspired by these successes, as well as having the fall and dying marigolds bring back childhood memories of helping my Mom pluck off all the dead flowers on marigolds, I plucked some off for myself (aka stole from the neighbours gardens).  I then took them home and planted them.  In shocking news they have since started growing, enough that I feel as though they might be in a state to flower next year (oops I may have gotten carried away already picturing beds of flowers overflowing, an entire balcony covered in brilliant oranges and yellows and maybe even a hint of red).

Baby Marigolds growing on my balcony.

This, of course, all leads to my nightmare.  I woke up this morning with a vague but horrified recollection of seeing all my baby marigolds being swept up into a massive flood of water and the more I tried to water them the more they kept disappearing into the soil.  Obviously, Regis and I ran out to check on them first thing in the morning and they are all still fine. 

Regis humours me with a trip out to our garden.

My lazy weekend morning question is, what should I grow next?  How do I care for my baby marigolds over the winter?  Can I have the majestic garden of my dreams on my balcony?  I suppose the answer to these questions are - will I ever get a job?  Let me assure you, the second I start working I will toss all this stuff in the garbage and never dream of gardening again. 

One final confession - in case you think from this story I am in fact some sort of flower growing expert  - I had assumed my marigold success was because I had chosen the proper location and soil mixture combined with my loving attention.  Then, I noticed the extra pot on my balcony for leftover dirt and dead plants and garbage had also sprouted some marigolds, presumably ones I had just thrown away.  Maybe I should just give up now.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Free Stuff

Everybody likes free stuff, especially broke, unemployed people like me!  My friend Jen came up with a beautiful way to attain all sorts of free things, and I am going to share that with you here. In short it is, sign up to be in the audience of as many television shows as you possibly can. During these shows they will give you free things. It's that easy.

We recently went to a taping for Steven and Chris. It was awesome, the show was hilarious, and we had a really great time. Then at the end of the show we were given a free magazine on home design, and the real prize, a Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee maker. This thing is amazing. It makes cappucinos and lattes and espresso and I didn't even drink coffee before I got this crazy little machine but now all I want to do is get more little magic capsules to make more coffee! It has filled my life with such joy. All for exactly zero dollars.

In a caffiene induced frenzy (in funny news not from our coffee makers, right after the show Jen and I headed to Starbucks with our presents and proceeded to pay for coffee), we came up with some even better ideas. These beautiful coffee pots could become gifts - weddings, birthdays, holidays, baby showers. Everybody needs more coffee in their lives! Plus people would be impressed with such a generous and thoughtful present, and you would never need to mention the free part.

But, here comes the really genius part of the entire plan, what if instead of selfishly keeping your prize, or selflessly giving it away you sold it on eBay? Thereby making money off of something that was free. Essentially going somewhere, doing something, putting in a little time on the computer and coming away with money. Yes, I hope you see where this is going, stay with me here people..... Going to free shows could become your JOB!!!!!!!! The cash you earned could be used to go out for dinner or buy gas for your car or pay your rent. You would be a working person once again. You could use complimentary tickets to television tapings as your way back into respectable society.

That is why we have signed up for as many shows as we can. Some shows limit the amount of times you can attend or the frequency in a season (not Steven and Chris, go fellow unemployed Torontonians, go every day!). I'm off to Marilyn Denis next week and am hoping to hear back from Cityline soon.

I also need to brag a little. For the unemployed you may have found your self esteem has hit an all time low, here is a way to boost it. At these shows there is a definite seating arrangement based on how well you present yourself. Jen and I got front row seats, because we are, in fact, front row material. It also needs to be mentioned, the girl behind us in line said to the man choosing seats for everybody, "Ooo can we sit in the front row too?" She was promptly sat in the second row. Front row isn't for everybody, just saying....

When you're this adorable how could they not put you in the front row?

The reason I mention this all specifically today is because on Monday September 19th at 2pm on CBC you will be able to watch the season premiere that we attended. You'll know right where to find me in the audience. Also, after it's over can we please talk pet miniature pigs? Maybe I'll save that for another post....

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cleaving by Julie Powell

This last week has been a strange mix of "finding yourself" books for me.  I started with Eat, Pray, Love.  I've seen the movie and didn't love it, I found the book far more engaging and realistic.  Who can disagree with finding inner peace through homemade pasta and wine, meditation and yoga, and lots of sex and travelling.  Not me!  Next I read The Secret Life of Bees.  I loved it, I laughed and cried and cried some more. 

I use those two books to show that I appreciate a good story of personal searching for meaning.  I appreciate the bizarre and unlikely lengths that people go to put their lives back together.  This brings us to Cleaving.  Written by the author of Julie and Julia - which I read, and liked the story and idea of cooking difficult recipes to mirror your life.  Cleaving is a whole other story.

Apparently, after the success of Julie and Julia, Julie's marriage falls apart.  She starts sleeping with another man, her husband gets a girlfriend and she decides to learn how to butcher meat.  As a sometimes almost, I still eat chicken and fish, kinda vegetarian I hadn't expected to be bothered by this but the explanations are graphic (when she compares a cow body to a human body to explain what she is hacking up), and also boring (pages upon pages).  I hate to do this, but I admit, I skimmed over a lot of this stuff.

She also, I think unreasonably, hates women who come into the store and order boneless skinless chicken breast - which happens to  be one of the staples in my diet.  Maybe this is when I started disliking the book.  Or maybe it was when she moved out without breaking up with her husband and travelled to Buenos Aires, then Kiev, Tanzania and Japan all without reason.

*Spoiler alert* there is no happy Disney ending, she does not find any meaning in her travels, or her random men, there is no conclusion and in the thank you section she mentions that most of her family and friends declined reading the book.  I advise you do the same and skip this one.  I wish I had.

Martini Night!!

Wednesday night is Martini Night at Hey Lucy's in Toronto and you can find a wonderfully long list of martinis for only $4.  This is usually a delicious night of fun, but unfortunately this Wednesday found me without even the required $4 (which almost certainly turns into a need for $8....  and then $12..... and then another $6 for sweet potato fries...etc....). 

Instead of moping around about it I hosted my own martini night.  We mixed up cocktails in chocolate and raspberry (I tried to make the experience authentic by sugar rimming the glasses and putting ju jubes in the bottom of blue raspberry martinis for my friends - just as adorable as Hey Lucy's!).  The evening progressed to drinking pink beer and wine out of martini glasses, and eating copious amounts of chocolate cake, but this happens to the best of us I'm sure. 

In the end - my Thursday morning conclusion is that free martinis are better than $4 martinis.  The only damper to the night was when a few people had to leave early because of work in the morning.  Don't worry - there's always enough of us who are unemployed to keep the party going. 

Bored, poor and in need of an excuse to drink liquor?  My suggestion is a home made martini night.  Do you have a great recipe for next Wednesday?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A Day in the Life Of.....

Here is how I assume most people's lives go - wake up early, get ready for work, travel to work, work, maybe lunch, some more work, travel home from work, dinner, time filler until bedtime, sleep.  Repeat.  There is a simple and rewarding routine to this, especially on that day every week, or two weeks, or the first and fifteenth when money appears in your bank account to reward you for the time you have spent working. 

When you are unemployed there is no certainty.  This is not a vacation in the way that scheduled time off of work is relaxing.  Think of unemployment like the crappiest vacation you have been on, it rains every day, the mosquitos eat you alive, the ocean is full of jellyfish, and worst of all, Cuba runs completely out of rum (or Mexico and tequila, or Jamaica and joints, you get where I'm going with this).  It is such a bad vacation that you are in fact looking forward to sinking back in to the comfort of what you know, working half assed at job that is fairly meaningless.  This is preferable.

Don't worry - I have the perfect solution!  Here is my guide on how to spend your day, and various ways to feel productive about doing nothing.

8-9am - wake up.  Sometimes this is earlier, if you have spent the night tossing and turning sleeplessly, it is fine to wake up with the sunrise.  Pretend you like it.  Say things like, "I'm really a morning person" or "I'm most productive in the morning" or "I don't want to get used to sleeping in, soon I will have a job and have to be up early".  You don't have to say these things to other people, just repeat them quietly to yourself until you believe them.

9am - Regis and Kelly!  This is the highlight of your day.  Don't miss this for sleep, you can catch up on sleep during naptime.  It is Regis' final season.  You might think this is some sad addiction I have developed during my long period of unemployment, but that is not true.  Even when working I used to prefer afternoon shifts so that I could watch Regis.  My boxer puppy is named after him because they share the same adorable wrinkly old man face.

 10am - feel free to continue watching tv, whatever is on, especially reruns of Rich Bride, Poor Bride you have already seen, or any of the Housewives.  I won't judge.  Usually this is when I switch from tv to internet.  I check my email, facebook, other email, job postings, blogs.  I pretend to be looking for jobs, but I know that nothing new has come up since I last checked around 10pm the night before.  I don't actually apply for anything yet, I go back to facebook and look at some random pictures.  Finally I might work up the emotional strength to write up a cover letter and apply to a few jobs.  I might also leave this for the afternoon internet session.

12 - walk the dog.  Stretch this out as long as possible, it is perfectly acceptable to walk the dog for up to three hours.  This is good exercise for you both.  You are a wonderful dedicated owner.  There is absolutely nothing sad and pathetic about having three hours in the middle of the afternoon with nothing to do except wander around.  Try not to actually cry while doing this, the neighbours will start to wonder.  Let them think you have an exotic job that allows you to be home in the afternoon.

2-3ish - lunch, whenever you return.  I often consider skipping this meal, but the more elaborate a meal you make the more time you can use up.  Consider having more than one course.  Get out that cookbook you never thought you would have time to use.  Start eating strange things from cans - for example stuffed vine leaves, no name brand, are delicious!  Food poisoning can be a great way to spend a few days.

After lunch is usually when I start to get desparate.  I read entire books during this time of day. I try to make social appointments with my other unemployed friends.  Make friends with people on maternity leave, or students with strange schedules.  Start calling your grandmother more often.  This is often when my obessive compulsive cleaning streak starts to show itself.  This is also a good time to recheck your email, or to take a nap.

6ish - normal people with real world jobs are home!  If you are not too deep into the scrubbing out the fridge or already out for coffee, start calling these people.  Begging and crying is permitted if it helps get you an invite to dinner.  No level of desparation is too low at this time.  Tell them to come to your house, serve them vine leaves and left over KD. 

Night time is easiest - sleep, as soon as it gets dark this is acceptable.  Go to bed at 9pm if you have to.  Take a hot bath, or a gravol, or both, whatever gets the job done.

Good luck!  Let me know if you have any tips or tricks to fill in time.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Beginning!

The idea for this blog was born while I was cleaning out the crumb collector on my toaster. Employed people don't know about this silly little contraption. They have no time to wonder where the crumbs from the bagel they toast on the way out the door to a paying job go to. Crumb heaven? Maybe. People who are working just don't have time to care. When the toaster lights your breakfast on fire you have the means to go to Walmart and for $11 pick yourself up a new one.
Unemployed people - and I know I'm not alone here - have far more time than money. We know that the toaster collects the crumbs in a fun little tray that is precariously held with some sort of little latch. This can be released into a garbage can and the crumbs will empty.

Your method will depend on the length of time you have been unemployed/underemployed. Myself, going on 18 months (Christ, if my unemployment was a baby it would be walking!), I have a different way to clean this out. First - I open the tray into the garbage and shake it around, pretending there is some semblance of sanity left in my life. Then I place the toaster on the oven, without properly attaching the latch, so crumbs fall into burners making a giant mess and threatening to burn down my house. Good. Now I can take the oven apart and clean it piece by piece. While cleaning the oven you should set the toaster onto the counter. When left on the counter, unlatched, of course, it will release more crumbs. After you have taken care of the oven make sure to give the toaster a little shake. Clean these crumbs. Shake again over the sink full of dirty oven water. Now you will have a reason to clean the sink that you have already cleaned at least twice today. Put the toaster where it belongs. No - too quick - first try to rearrange your cereal boxes, if you put the cornflakes beside the microwave and tuck your toaster into between your bran and all bran does it look cuter?

Eventually you will decide it is best in it's original spot. Carefully clean the counter of any extra crumbs. If done properly this job can take well over an hour. Congratulations!

Where was this long and rambling story going? O right.... so after spending much of my afternoon doing precious little more than cleaning a toaster I thought, "I can't be alone in this." We are a generation of unemployed, overqualified people waiting for the Boomers to retire, which was going to be a long wait anyways without the collapse of everything financial slowing it down. While I realize this is a world wide crisis, I think we could all use somewhere safe to laugh about it, share experiences and occasionally play "9 to 5" as loudly as possible to try and muffle the sound of our collective sobbing. This is that place!

So please, I know you have time, check my blog every day to see what I'm up to. I will try to give you lots of tips and ways to fill in your time. Not crap like - try volunteering, go back to school to boost your resume, it's an aggressive market. Really helpful stuff - we can debate the best way to get the buttons on your microwave clean, or how many times you can reword your cover letter before you have a complete mental breakdown, or impending homelessness. It's not like you have anything better to do. Join me on this journey