Category Archives: Lists

An On-Topic Post: My Reading List

Woo, a post that actually relates to the blog!

One of the things I really wanted to do on my year off was finishing a pile of books I had been longing to read. (Isn’t that on everyone’s “to do” list when they have a chunk of free time?) I’ve always wanted to tackle a few classics, since for some reason my high school chose to negate famous authors such as Jane Austen,  Charles Dickens and Mark Twain in the curriculum. I don’t know how I obtained a high school diploma without touching a book by any of these people, but I did. (We did cover a few Shakespeare plays, Lord of the Flies and Frankenstein*, so all hope is not lost on public education in Canada.)

*We spent two weeks in class listening to horrible audio tapes of this book. Just thought you should know.

Note: When I think of “classics,” I’m really just relating it to “well-known books that come up in conversation and everyone should know what they are.” 

Probably the easiest thing I’ve ever googled.

Of course, not all goes to plan. I did finish The Great Gatsby. It was wonderful. I breezed through 1984 and then Animal Farm. I even regretfully finished The English Patient!

Pride and Prejudice didn’t make for very good beach reading, as I was on vacation in PEI at the time, so I switched over to–are you ready?–The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. Her more well-known work is Something Borrowed, which I believe has been made into a movie starring Kate Hudson. I feel guilty just typing this.

I'm sorry, Jane Austen.

My next check-out from the library was Great Expectations. I don’t know what it was, I really enjoyed the book but I just didn’t finish it before it had to go back. I tried! I really did! I tried to the tune of nearly $5 in late fees. I did record the page number I was on, so all hope isn’t lost!

At one point I even downloaded a Kindle app onto my iPhone and tried reading the free A Tale of Two Cities on my breaks. That lasted about…15 minutes? You try reading that on an iPhone!

I’m not doing too well at this point, am I?

I keep going to the library with “classics” on my mind, and then I wind up getting side-tracked by the pretty pastel covers on the shelf where they keep all the popular books. Dammit.

Right now I’m reading Eat, Pray, Love, which is a lovely story of a woman’s journey–oh, hell, you’ve all seen the movie. Not a classic. I’ve also got Lisa See’s Peony in Love to read afterward. Also not a classic. (If you are curious about China and have a thing for mid-20th century historical fiction, please get your hands on Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy by See. Those were two stories that stuck with me for a while.)

Other off-track books I’ve finished include The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, My Sister’s Keeper, Water for Elephants, and The Help.

Oh, my god. These are all books recently made into movies. Who am I? I actually didn’t even realize that until I listed them here. This is turning about to be a more self-deprecating post than I thought.

(I suppose I don’t know why there’s a certain…elitism…against people who flock to a certain book when word gets out about a movie being made. It’s a way that the book is thrust into the spotlight, a book that the reader may have never heard of before all the movie-talk.)

If you have a Goodreads account, please do me a favour and make sure I stay on track! I’d like to read Moby Dick and finish Great Expectations before I dive back into the world of pastel covers.

Although, that may have to wait. Looks like I’ve put a hold on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close at the library. It was an accident, I swear!

Tom Hanks is judging me. (Although this is a shot from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, so yeah, lets think about that.)

Oh and please share any of your favourite classic novels! I would like some suggestions, of course.

A Vegetarian’s Rant

So, I’m a vegetarian. A pescetarian, really, but since all I get is confused looks when I say that, I’m a “vegetarian who eats fish.” I didn’t for a while, but a few trips to PEI (hellllllo fresh seafood!) and living a stone’s throw away the best fish and chips place on the east side turned me over to the dark side. Whoops.

I’ve been this way for, what, 6 years now? It’s just something that I’ve been doing for so long, it doesn’t seem “different” or “special.” I rarely talk about it, people usually only find out about my eating habits when we go out somewhere and I wind up asking for a caesar salad with no bacon. The proceeding conversation is a little predictable, so I’ll offer some advice for those of you who have never met one of us.

Top ten worst things people say when I reveal my eating habits:

1. “Oh, that’s cool. Would you mind if I order a steak? That wouldn’t bother you, right?” The person who’s asking isn’t really at fault, who’s at fault is either whatever crazy judgemental vegetarian they have come across in the past, or the stereotypes they’ve seen. I hate using the goddamn word “vegetarian” because it conjures up images of some crazy, unshaven, ratty-haired hippy who talks about rainbows and throws red paint on people. Thanks, Hollywood. General rule: Don’t judge my food choices, and I won’t judge yours. Unless you’re eating babies, then, well, I’ll say something.

2. “Why did you become a vegetarian?” I usually just brush this off, sorry. I was 14 when I made the decision, I can’t even remember. Fluffy cute animals are too cute to eat? Probably. Let’s not get into an ethics conversation that inevitably catches the attention of some meat-head at the next table who decides to tell me how delicious his steak is. Charming.

I imagine this is how it went.

3. “Do you eat eggs?” DID I SAY VEGAN?

4. “I’ll make you some tofu when you come over.” Yes, because that is the only non-meat product in existence. Thanks. I’m perfectly fine with some salad and potatoes for dinner, and hey, guess what, they’re vegetarian!

5. “I could never be a vegetarian! I love meat too much!” Is this supposed to compliment my self-control, or what? It’s really not all that hard, trust me.

None of you mean any harm, I realize. There are definitely worse things you could say! I’m quite the quiet vegetarian. I bring my own veggie burgers to barbecues, I don’t request any special meals to be made for me, and I don’t care what you eat in front of me. I even find Epic Meal Time hilarious, despite that they cover everything in mounds of bacon.

I would like to include a public service announcement: Thinking of cutting meat out of your diet? Great! Shut up about it! There is a time and a place for talking about your dietary choices, and spitting at uncle Joe for eating turkey on Thanksgiving is not one of them. You’re just making life harder for the non-confrontational vegetarians that have to battle your stereotypes daily. Thank you.

Sometimes My Own Generation Confuses Me

According to Wikipedia (I only use the best resources for my blog), we are Generation Y. This roughly includes people born in the ’80s and early ’90s, if my loyal online encyclopedia is being truthful.

I realize I’m not a revolutionary by pointing out that sometimes people my age are ridiculous, but hey, it’s 2012 and all the original ideas have been used.

Some things I just don’t understand:

1. Wearing sweatpants or *gasp* pajamas outside. To go see people. Or go out to eat. Yes, I own sweatpants and even pajamas, but they for the house, to get the mail, or to walk the dog.

I wore sweatpants to school ONE DAY in grade 5. I remember it vividly. They were light heather grey with a light blue stripe running up the side. I was feeling uncomfortable all morning, and then our very well-dressed French VP came in to visit the class. Seeing her in all her Holt Renfew glory made me feel like a bum, so I went home and put on jeans at lunch. I never wore them again. Even on pajama days in elementary school, I was too uncomfortable to leave the house wearing PJ pants. Maybe that’s just a deep-rooted mental issue with me, but people, put on some goddamn normal pants!


2. Dubstep. Okay, this is obvious. Mostly, I don’t get the obsession with Skrillex. What is cool about this guy, who used to be part of a screamo band? You can’t even sing along, what is this nonsense? I could do an entire post on music. I’ll save that for later.

3. Modern video games*  I kind of gave up on buying new systems after the GameCube, and even that I picked up with my Christmas money a year later for a used price of $80. From what I’ve observed from my boyfriend’s PS3, these new games are like mini-movies and have absolutely no multiplayer (or if there is one it is the lamest thing ever) so you’re forced to only befriend people who have their own PS3s and the game itself. And can we implement a mandatory “skip” button for the cut scenes? I JUST WANT TO PLAY THE GAME. I would express my love for my N64 but I don’t want to come off as a douchebag hipster. (Super Mario 64 was the best game of all time, just saying.)
*Portal 2 was actually pretty okay.

This could be 100 different PS3 games.

4. The beautiful orange skin/bleached hair combination. This isn’t unique to me, most people I talk to also don’t understand. That doesn’t stop it from happening, though. Do these girls enjoy looking like fake, plastic barbie dolls? Or was a genuine accident with a drunken hair stylist or a fall into a vat of tanning lotion?

5. iPods 24/7. Yes, I have an iPod, and now an iPhone. I brought it to high school a few times, but the cords tangling were more hassle than they were worth. I don’t care if you listen to your iPod, but it’s the people who act like they cannot live without it I don’t understand. It’s the kids with the earbuds in (whether music is playing or not, it’s still rude) who are trying to answer the clearly annoyed cashier’s questions. It’s the kids who freak out and argue for half an hour with the teacher about why they should be allowed their iPod in class. It’s the oblivious people who have their shitty music on so loud on the subway at 7am that you can hear it through their earbuds when you’re standing 20 feet away.
Hey guys, you will not melt like the wicked witch of the west if you take your earbuds out for an hour. Trust me, you’ll be okay. And the dubstep will still be there when you get back.

Also you probably don't want to get killed because you didn't hear that tractor trailer.

I’m not a complete recluse from people my age. I do go on the Facebook, I Twitter, and I make the blogs.* I can whip up a fine batch of jello shots and waste a whole afternoon looking at university memes on Facebook. I’ve also seen Harry Potter, so don’t come to remove my Generation-Y membership card just yet!

*Completely intended.

This is satire. I repeat, this is satire. Do not be offended. 

The Mysteries of Leaving Messages

In the past two weeks, I have been trying to contact three different offices (2 school, one doctor’s) for various reasons. These offices have completely abandoned the old “stay on the line and someone will pick up in a minute” routine, favouring leaving a message as the only option.

I haven’t received a call back from any of these. I’m dumbfounded, and rather than call again and leave a bunch of angry messages, I’ll hypothesize and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Possible Reasons Why No One Has Called Me Back:

1. I have a lisp that only comes out when I’m on the phone, and no family member has ever said anything about it, nor can I tell. Therefore it sounds like I’m saying “No, it’s cool, don’t call me back please” instead of “please give me a call back! I’ll be here! Waiting!”

2. Every time my message is being heard on the machine, someone slips over a stray power cord and falls on the “delete” button before I’m able to recite my phone number.

3. There is a secret hierarchy of area codes, and 416-ers are always called back promptly, 647-ers are laughed at left to rot. (Yes. I have a 647 number. Don’t talk about it, it’s a sore spot.)

4. The office workers are so used to deciphering heavy accents and mumbled words that my clearly-spoken phone number has thrown them astray.

5. My phone is broken and will only let through the most annoying and nosy telemarkers.

6. The person listening to my message used to date someone with the name Michelle and it hurts too much to listen to the rest.

7. My phone voice is so beautiful and professional they think it’s a recording/robot and are too annoyed/scared to call back.

8. There is a secret code embedded into the robot message heard when you first call the office. I did not mention the secret code in my message.

 9. April Ludgate interns as a phone answerer at all three of these offices.

I have no idea. In all honestly, I don’t know why I haven’t gotten a call back. Is it normal to have to wait two weeks for something like this?

“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.

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.

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!