Monthly Archives: October 2011

At the Top of my “Pro UK” List

The Cadbury Flake Bar

It all started when I stumbled upon a rogue box of Flake bars at the local Mac’s Milk and fell in love.
Sometimes, you can find these chocolate bars at random convenience stores. Otherwise you have to pick through the novelty royal-themed mugs and t-shirts at the British shops, and they are always at least 2 dollars each.

Walking into any local grocery and being able to indulge in however many Flake bars I want? Gold. Pure gold.

Chalk one up for the “go to the UK” side!

In all seriousness, I’m currently filling out my travel applications. Oh my god. 

I swear I won't be a tacky tourist.

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A Halloween Rant

Like a lot of kids, Halloween was my favourite. Who doesn’t love getting dressed up as whatever you want for free candy?

I grew up in an old, working class neighbourhood where the majority of people were older. Every year there would be some great Halloween displays. There was the guy a street over who would cover his driveway in corn stalks to create a sort of maze to get to the front door. He also brought out the ol’ smoke machine, and had clothes stuffed with straw (terrifying when you’re eight years old) hanging in the trees.

The old man a block down in the small blue house on the corner always had the best things to give away. It was a well-known fact that his house was the first one you hit each year to avoid disappointment when he inevitably ran out of treats. He gave away picture books and small stuffed animals, as well as the traditional candy.

The rare house that decided not to give out handy knew the risk, and I’m assuming they regretted their choice the next morning. Good.

And then, I moved into a newer neighbourhood full of creepy recluse-types who worked all the time. The house across the street, I swear up and down, was a drug den or halfway house or group home or something. Only in our town would the “upper middle class” area be more sketchy than the working class parts of town. At least you knew the drug dealers’ names and they were friendly. All the fancily-dressed parents seemed suspicious of each other. Too much Dateline, I presume.

Not many people “did” Halloween. Few decorations, no effort.

What is the problem? You can’t buy a jumbo box of mini chocolates for $10 and spend an evening sitting by the door? You can’t even dress your children up before you shove them up the walkway with their No Frills bag to demand candy? You, annoying teenager, think I’m going to give you the non-stale candy when you walk up in your street clothes and hold your back-pack open?

You’re all missing the point, you greedy, selfish, soul-less people.

Halloween is for fun. It is for scaring the crap out of small children in good humour. It is for dressing up and earning your candy.

For all of you who have been a guilty party in the paragraph above, I have one thing to say.

Stop ruining Halloween, and go back to your sad, loveless lives. 

To the rest of you lovely folks, enjoy it. Have a great October 31st!

Midterms? Oh, I Remember Those.

I have spent the majority of my life in school. The last 4 years have gotten me used to constantly being under stress to finish some assignment or another, especially around this time in the year.

Of course, there’s the momentary “haha, sucks to be you” feeling you get when your friends complain about tests and labs. Hey, I’m going out to the bar this Friday whether you have an exam or not, kids! I may not have anyone to go with, but that doesn’t matter. Shush.

I have no labs, no lectures, no classes. No group projects. No group projects? No group projects! Oh god, do I ever hate group projects. It makes it worse when you attend a commuter school and every single person seems to be live in a different corner of the city and they each have no transportation, sense of direction, or free time.

Instead of spending all night with a cup of overly-sugared homemade coffee and a 40 pound textbook, preparing for a sure-fail exam the next day, I sit and do nothing. I’ve just picked up some library books, but they don’t count. I’m reading Tina Fey‘s biography, for Christ’s sake, not Moby Dick.

Occasionally, I do some online shopping and then never actually order the 4 cardigans. Or, I’ll write a punch of bad blog post drafts. More often than not, I do nothing. Nothing.

I work. I stand there, put on a big fake smile, and try not to rip open the next spray bottle of End-All that comes through so I can chug it all and get the hell out of there. Sometimes I sweep. Actually, I sweep a lot. I find myself just walking around with a dustpan and broom even though everything has been swept, just to look busy. There isn’t much to do except sweep and try to look like I’m not wasting time by memorizing codes for straw bales and pie pumpkins. I’ve taken up pacing, actually. A lot of pacing. If I am wearing pants with decent pockets*, I’ll print out some receipt paper and scribble down ideas for posts, drawings, random funny thoughts, etc.

*decent pockets=no secret notes falling into the hands of the wrong people. I remember the day I found a hand-written poem about god knows what sitting under the keyboard. I laughed for days (although I never found out who it was who wrote it.)

Each day, there is no coming home with new knowledge. Except for the occasional fact about Japanese Anenomes I happen to pick up while relaying an answer to a guest, I don’t learn much. There aren’t any challenging tasks presented, I don’t accomplish anything new. I am just there to keep the equilibrium going, not to improve anything.

So, here we go. I’ll say it. I miss school. I miss learning. I miss writing essays and lectures and all that fun stuff. At least I knew I was doing something to improve my life every time I stepped into a class room. I was chipping away at a degree, every word I wrote on an essay.

Instead, my next assignment will be creating a detailed budget for the UK. I’m looking at hostels and train fares and visas transportation and whatnot. I’m trying to get it all together, and it seems like a lot! So look at that, kiddies, I do have a project to work on. And I guarantee the outcome of mine will be much more exciting then whatever project you’re working on. Hah.

I also have to work out which programs I’m applying to. I have a grip on this, finally! And York University’s Glendon College is beautiful…

I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing. “Damn, I wish I only had to go to work and I was actually making money.” At least your education will hopefully mean your job doesn’t suck as much as mine!

Perspective is a funny thing.

A Penny Saved is a Penny Spent…Wait…

Saving. I am surprisingly good at saving. I do not touch my savings account, and it’s not even accessible via my debit card. Still, I’m looking for ways to cut my spending even more.

Main goal: Do not leave school drowning in debt. A little water-around-the-ankles? Okay. Maybe even waist-level. But drowning? Oh, hell no. I remember our 40 year old guidance teacher telling us how she was still paying off her university debt. My first thought: Holy crap, do teachers really make that little?
Trying to plan for that plus trying to plan a trip to the UK is making my head spin. How do I save more?

I don’t get my hair done, aside from a bi-annual cut. I don’t get manicures or pedicures, I do my eyebrows myself (as you can probably tell). I don’t buy make-up aside from the yearly replacement of my Clinique powder and MAC concealer. For the amount I use them both, spending 50 bucks every year isn’t so bad.

There really isn’t that much left to cut. Unfortunately, I live in a climate that has extreme hot and colds. Winter is freezing! It can get down to -25 Celsius multiple times. This is the year I’ve decided to buy quality winter gear in lieu of $40 “coats” from Bluenotes and $50 “boots” from Spring (I never knew feet could literally turn into blocks of ice).

So, here is my dilemma. I have no winter coat at the moment, and I have my sights set on this one:

TNA Parka from Aritzia

It’s classic, super warm, good quality…and it’s going to cost me $300. I tried one on at the store and it was so warm. I can imagine waiting for the streetcar in the wonderful hail/rain/snow that likes to roll around in January, the kind that hurts your skin and stings your eyes. The hood would keep me all nice and warm and the long, waterproof body if it would keep me dry.

I’ve already picked up a pair of leather riding boots on sale for $130 to keep my feet somewhat dry. Thanks, Soft Moc!

At least they look expensive.

But can I justify $300?!? Three hundred dollars. That’s almost 30 hours of work for the minimum wage worker.
That’s $300 less than what will go in my savings for my trip. I can buy 30 pizzas. THIRTY PIZZAS.

I suppose if I use it for 3 winters, it’s better than buying three $100 coats that don’t keep me as warm. (As if I ever buy $100 coats).

Maybe I’ll have to cut my food budget this month. Oh, god.

Oh, glorious food. Glorious, glorious food. Ever since I discovered the Domino’s around the corner and programmed the number into my phone (mistake #1), they’ve seen me at least once a week for a large pineapple pizza. I don’t get it delivered, and it only comes to $10.16 per pizza, but I suppose it’s an extravagance.

There’s also my favourite Greek restaurant, which I have to admit I’m heading down to tomorrow. Again, not expensive at all, but that gives me a reason to justify my quantity of visits. It’s going to cost me 6 bucks for the subway and 10 for the meal, give or take.

It’s not like I’m spending a ton at the pub every week. I almost never spend over $30!
$30 x 3 visits a month (I don’t get weekends off much, boo) = $90
Yikes.

Every meal of tofu pad thai + a coke at the mall? 9 bucks. A bagel and an iced capp at Tim’s? 6.
A subway sandwich on my short lunch breaks? 5 bucks a pop.

I suppose it’s all about balance. I’ve yet to figure out exactly how much it will cost me to go to Edinburgh, and I’ll admit I’m kind of scared to know the total.

Next plan of action: Keep a moleskin notebook and record every single thing I buy. If anyone sees me posting about pad thai from the mall again, feel free to tell me off. Thank you.

I Never Thought I’d Relate to George Costanza

If you didn’t grow up watching Seinfeld reruns, then this might go a little over your head. I apologize, and I recommend you take the time to fully appreciate the peak of 90s sitcoms (and Jerry Seinfeld’s hair).

Remember this scene? George, having lost another job, is trying to figure out his next move. He sits down with Jerry, who takes pity and suggests new careers. The whole sequence is hilariously sad, but something most of us can probably relate to at one point or another.

After I quit nursing school, there was a period of a few months where almost every career seemed like an option (aside from engineering and nursing, of course).
Trying to narrow down my interests was next to impossible.

I think I’m a little past this, now. I know what I don’t want in a career, and most of these revelations have come from my soul-crushing current job.

I’m even highlighting majors in university books I’d like to take. Majors! I’m slowly narrowing it down.

And I have to say, I’m kind of proud of myself.

(Anything but geriatrics, anything, I tell you!)

 

Feisty Friday: Song of the Day

Please forgive me for that title.

The Canadian indie folk rock goddess, Feist, has released a new album, Metals. Remember that iPod commercial with the “1, 2, 3, 4” song in the background? The one that you couldn’t get out of your head for weeks, and when you did you’d only be tormented again when the commercial played during Real World?

Yep, that one.

Leslie Feist is also part of the indie supergroup Broken Social Scene. At one point or another, this band has held the talents of both Emily Haines (Metric) and Amy Millan (Stars). Oddly enough, despite being loved by every music publication in the country, I haven’t found a song by them that I can even remember. Oh well, maybe it’s just me. If you have a favourite Broken Social Scene song, please share. Maybe I overlooked a good one.

Metals is a darker album than the previous, The Reminder. Sometimes you need a bouncy, sing-a-long for a road trip with your best friends. Sometimes you need a little bit of this instead.

Feist- The Bad in Each Other

If you liked this, listen to Comfort Me and Graveyard too. You’re welcome.

Europe: “Why Not?”

Why not go work abroad in the UK?

I’m sure everyone who has ever thought of a crazy idea like this out of the blue has encountered doubt from their family.
Some of my favourite responses were:

“You’re not going to Europe” with a tone that implied the idea was some sort of joke.
“Everyone there hates foreigners!” but…we [Canadians] like the Queen, too!
“Every animal in Australia will kill you!” after I had thought about going to Australia instead.
“But…you’re going alone? Alone? That’s insane!” Yeah, I’ll admit it. It’s kind of insane.
“You need to stay here, work, and save for school.” My job ends in December and won’t start up again (if they decide to have me back) until April.
“The economy sucks, good luck finding a job.” Precisely why I want this experience on my resume. The economy in Toronto isn’t bad at all, but as always, having thousands of college grads applying for the same job in a few years leads me to believe I need that extra edge above others.
“You are going to waste all your savings!” Maybe. Hopefully not, but maybe.

I’m slowly convincing myself to start the process of filling out forms. I don’t have to submit them until December, really.

How did you overcome doubt from your family? Share some ways of explaining your plan that didn’t result in breaking your mother’s heart, please!