Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Burden of Houseplants

We recently moved from a large house with large rooms to a tiny bungalow (which, actually, cost $30 000 more than the large house. Oh, Toronto vs. outlying suburb housing prices, you so silly.) Admittedly, the large house was a little too large for the three of us who were used to living in doll-house like spaces, and the extra space was useless and left empty after my grandfather went to a home.

We’ve managed to rid the house of most of the superflous furniture, but there’s still one problem that’s become a bit of a hassle. The houseplants.

What do you do with them? There are only a certain amount of spaces in front of the window where they can thrive.

The ornamental orange was from a clipping my mom brought back from Florida over 20 years ago. The one on the bottom in the second picture was from a clipping another mother gave us when I was in first grade. The palm was one we picked up from Ikea to stage the old house.

It took me a while to get used to scrapping plants at work. We only sell the “best quality” product, so if a plant is wilting a little or maybe just needs a repotting or a little TLC, we usually just wind up throwing them out if no one’s buying. I hated it at first. We scrapped 50 potted Ranunculus in the spring, I remember. The leaves we a little yellow and they were getting scraggly, but still, give them a chance. Maybe I’m just a too much of a softie. (I’ve personally adopted two orchids that had already lost their flowers and two scraggly burning bushes that were brought back by perfectionist customers.)

What do you do with unwanted houseplants? Throw them out? Give them away? Sell them at garage sales? (I actually vividly remember my mom doing this as a kid. Damn spider plants, can’t stop them!) Stores don’t take them.

But, at home, these plants have been a mainstay in our home for as along as I can remember. After seeing so many houseplant returns and customers’ complete failures at maintaining them, I have to respect the skill my mom must have put into getting some of these to thrive for so long.

Maybe tripping over the jungle of houseplants once and a while isn’t so bad. It could be worse. My mom could be trying to over-winter a $2 geranium and some mums in ugly, half-dead states. Oh, wait. She is.

Ankle Pants and an Awkward Childhood

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in the past year or so, these so called “ankle pants” have sprung up everywhere. Instead of going into any trendy store and expecting everything labelled “pants” to be full-length, you now have to compete with these icons of idiocy. Let me explain.

I am 5’8″ (I think. Maybe 5’9″?) and I’ve always been the “tall, lanky one.” I haven’t always loved it. Already being an awkward, greasy, acne-ridden pre teen with glasses, being the tallest one around wasn’t helping anything. It felt like I was spending years trying to find pants that wouldn’t make me look stupid with one or two washes. Nothing looks dumber than bellbottoms (sorry, “flares”) that are 2 inches too short because you bought them at Wal-Mart and they shrunk. Pair that with clunky, black, thick-heeled “dress” shoes, also from Wal-Mart, and I was a mess. I’d spend whole days tugging at my pants so they would actually cover my ankles and hide my bright white socks.

The tactile sense of even trying these things on and feeling the horrible air on my ankles is enough to make me uncomfortable. It’s against everything I’ve ever thought was true and just about low-end fashion.

However, stores like Urban Outfitters, I guess I should thank you for making “awkward” cool again, in a way. Maybe there’s an 11 year old girl right now who, also awkward and greasy, doesn’t care that her Wal-Mart skinny jeans shrunk two inches because it’s cool. And that’s one less horrible thing to worry about when you’re one of less genetically gifted.


*Tangent Warning* I still hate them with a passion. What are you supposed to do in the winter? Don’t even get me started on open-toed boots.


…Seriously, though. What idiot thought these were a good idea? I bet they were invented in L.A.
If it’s cold enough for boots, your toes will freeze off. If it’s warm enough for an open-toe look, imagine all the foot sweat that is saturating the sides of those things. *Tangent Over*
Maybe I’m just too practical for the world of fashion.

“101 Goals” Revisited, 4 Years Later

With the day off work, I decided to “get organized.” This pretty much just meant I deleted all of my old, hard-drive-hogging powerpoints from first year and replied to emails. (The sad part is that this, to me, is considered a remarkably productive day.)

To organize all the paperwork I’ve got sitting around, cluttering up the kitchen table for my university applications, I scouted out an old hanging-file organizer from high school. Left over in this long-forgotten piece of broken dreams were plenty of documents from the first time I was applying to university. To the “shred” pile they went, but only because we haven’t had the fireplace cleaned for this season yet, and I’d rather not burn down the house. There were old assignments and tests, as well as study notes. “Screw you, science!” I yelled as I tossed them into the recycling bin.

Now we were getting to the end, and the last folder held something very interesting. Here, in this otherwise empty, unlabeled yellow folder, sat a list of 101 Goals I wrote for careers class in grade 10. I was 15. Unlike the other…”students” in the class (it was an “open” level class, that’s all I will say), I put a lot of thought into this, and I remember actually being proud of the list when I was finished.

Do I read it? I’m at a point in my life where spending 15 minutes deleting old files on my computer is considered a “productive day” and I really haven’t done much in the last 8 months except waste away at my job. Did I really want to add one more thing to the “why the 15 year old Michelle would hate me now” pile?

Well, I read it.
What the hell else was I going to do? Who wouldn’t read it, really?

I was surprised, in a good way. Some might even say “pleasantly.”
I found that I was a bit of an unrealistic person with sloppy handwriting at 15, but also I made some pretty solid expectations.

Here are some that I wasn’t too sad about reading:

#9 speak French fluently which I’m actively working towards, although it’s pretty damn hard!
#2 go snowboarding Hundreds of dollars, one extremely bruised tail-bone and one almost-fractured and dark purple thumb, I gave it up. But, the initial goal to “go snowboarding” did get done. Did I forget how much I hate the cold?
#5 go to England Okay, I haven’t put in my visa request yet, but that’s just because I’m currently entertaining the possibility of having to go away for school. Have you looked at residence fees? But, whether it be on a school exchange or a work visa, I will get there within the next few years.
#20 go to Warped Tour Done and done. That summer right after I wrote this, even. We got drenched, and my brand new bright-blue H&M tank top bled its colour all over my tan shorts…but I saw my favourite bands anyway so it was cool. And I will go back again, as soon as they get some decent bands on the lineup!
#22 meet Alexisonfire One of the biggest and best screamo bands in the country, Alexisonfire has a special place in my heart. At that same Warped Tour, Black Lungs, one of the member’s side projects, was playing. I found Wade in the crowd listening to the band that was on before Against Me!, waited until the set was over (politeness is a national pastime), and asked him for a picture. After awkwardly asking him “Are you Wade? I love your band!” completely forgetting that he also had a side project, his girlfriend (?) snapped a shot with my camera. Here it is:

I regret all my fashion choices of 2008.

My friends were off waiting in line to meet Mayday Parade, and I was alone and nervous, so I couldn’t tell him how much Alexisonfire’s December 16, 2007 performance at the International Centre was the best thing that had ever happened to me, but still, this was pretty awesome. Goal 1/5 complete!
#70 start a blog I don’t know why it took me so many years, but it’s done!
#78 go to a Leafs game A “special occasion only” thing in Toronto, where ticket prices are insane. My dad won a pair from a raffle to raise money for some boys hockey team. They were in the 400s of the Air Canada Centre, second row from the very top, and still the price on the ticket said $45 each! The Leafs were up against the Islanders, and we kicked their yankee asses.
#91 donate blood In grade 12, the blood drive came to our school. I got to miss my first class that day to help others, and had a pretty good excuse for missing the rest of the day since my boyfriend almost passed out (he’s not too good at heeding instructions and decided not to eat beforehand. Good job.)

On the opposite end, there are some that have me wondering, “what was I thinking?”

#1 run 15k Started again this summer, with a brand new pair of New Balance kicks. I forgot how much I hate that burning feeling in my lungs. I lasted maybe…a week?
#18 learn Cantonese One language at a time, jesus. The only things I know in Cantonese are swear words, grandpa, and the name of that weird sweet tofu soup at dim sum (doh foo fah?)
#27 own the Mod Club Why would I ever want to own a bar/concert venue? That sounds like a lot of late nights, and in a town like this, a lot of lost income if I don’t play my cards perfectly right.
#29 work a Lululemon for a while Only for “a while?” I see. I was already aware of the horrors of any sort of customer service related job, and I have no clue why I thought selling overpriced sweatpants to spoiled teenagers would be any different.
#53 get a part-time job that doesn’t suck Sorry again, 15 year old Michelle
#93 take a dance class If it’s not a class called “how to not look like an awkward moron at a club,” then I’m going no where near it.

All in all, I was not as disappointed as I thought I would be. The goals about obtaining a scholarship kind of stung, as well as the fitness ones (really, 50 push-ups in a row?) because I know I have been slacking. And I think the CBGB has been shut down now, so that one’s not going to fly. But for the most part? It made me feel a lot better about where I’m at now, and now I have a hanging file system to organize getting my life back on track.

What a productive day off.