The Writing Maladies of a Sensitive Blogger

For the most of this past summer I was MIA on WordPress. Believe it or not, the sentence “this is me showing up at the page” was all I could come up with. I would sit in front of this blank screen with the blinking cursor silently mocking my failure at stringing along a few decent paragraphs.

Eventually, I couldn’t bear to see it flashing before me, closed the tab and avoided WordPress altogether for the better part of the summer.

Why am I telling you this? Maybe I’m just looking for sympathy. Or maybe I just want to know that someone else out there can relate.

I started this blog in 2009. Three years ago, I was a very different person. Well actually, I was the same person but I saw things very differently. I started my blog for the same reason many of us start blogs. The feeling of an escape from life, or perhaps the need to have something new that is utterly and completely in your control. In my case, it was both.

The blank page was my best friend. I could fill it up with whatever I wanted. Life was a mess, but the page was clean.

I didn’t really care who read the blog. I loved to write. Writing made me happy, and my happiness had nothing to do with how many views my posts received. I learnt that I was my biggest critic. If I liked my post, then it didn’t matter who else did. If I hated it, all the positive feedback in the world wouldn’t be able to convince me I did a good job. 

And then something happened. Call it time or call it Freshly Pressed. Let’s call it Freshly Pressed. 

Freshly Pressed was probably the best and the worst thing that ever happened to this blog and its writer. Freshly Pressed gives you about 48 hours of fame and instant gratification, a window in which the world loves you. Followers and likes and comments rain down like confetti on the celebration of your blog’s success.

If you are a blogger who was Freshly Pressed, you may be able to attest that things change after that. For me, it stopped being about the love of writing and expression. It was now all about the audience. This is not to say Freshly Pressed was a bad thing. I ran into so many of you because of it, and for that I am grateful. 

But the pressure that I put on myself was definitely on. I placed my creative self-esteem in the hands of audience feedback. And solely positive feedback. 

If I didn’t think someone would like what I was going to write about, the post either landed in my saved documents or in the trash. As a result, hundreds of posts were aborted out of fear of disinterest, fear of negative feedback or maybe the worst- fear of complete indifference.

I seemed to have forgotten why I started this blog. The main reason this blog even exists is so that I don’t take myself too seriously. Ironically, I’ve never taken myself more seriously. For example, take this very post. It took me two weeks to write it and an hour and a half to come up with a title.

Creative process of normal people:

…whatever your definition of normal is

My version of the creative process:

I make this look more complicated than it really is

Of course, I cannot blame my blogging blocks entirely on Freshly Pressed. A lot of it was also personal issues that added to the mix. 

While I may have been absent from blogging, I wasn’t completely absent from reading some of the blogs I`m subscribed to. Mainly, you guys. This is where I talk about why Freshly Pressed was the best thing that ever happened to me. Take this any way you want to (actually, please take this in a good way) but I envied you all.

You all are fearless writers. (Yes, you!)  Whether it’s a post about finding roses in the garbage disposal, or a post about getting mad when people call you by stupid nicknames, or a post about the joy of getting voting stickers, you guys taught me that I shouldn’t care too much about other people’s opinions. Even if I do, it shouldn’t stop me from writing. You all have the metaphorical pair of blogger balls that I really need to start growing.

In many ways, they both feel the same.

Eventually of course, my summer pity party ended and I started writing again. Even if it was a post about talking to my blender, it had to be written if only to break the cycle of fear of not being liked. This post has no fancy play on words, no clever puns (except the blogger balls one, which is really a metaphor and not that funny). It`s the first time in a long time that I’m not trying desperately hard to impress everyone.

If you have gotten to the end of this post- Thank You. I may have spent a whole post talking about how you are indirectly the cause of my writing anxiety, but you are also directly the cause of infinite encouragement and inspiration. I could write another 3000 words about how awesome you guys are but I won`t because I’d like to stop being such a sap and get back to my usual no-nonsense sarcastic self. 

To all of you awesome WordPress bloggers, seeing you guys regularly on my reader has inspired me by kicking my ass into gear. Now I’d like to know your secrets: Why did you start blogging? How do you get past social acceptance fears? Does blogging ever feel like a job?

At least I have Eton A. Holton

November historically is a month known to usher in numerous first-world problems. Darker days, pedophilic facial hair, wrist-slitting Christmas holiday music while you’re standing in a three mile line up at Walmart to buy socks…

The worst thing about November for me is that winter is so incredibly close to kicking you in the ass for the next three months. Toronto put up a brave fight last year and came out victorious, officially cutting out winter 2011-2012. The only thing Toronto is cutting this winter are the lineups at the pharmacy for anti-depression meds.

But you know me, I’m not one to waste too many words wallowing in this annual life obstacle. Obviously, I will fight the winter blues in the best way I know how: Food and listening to Taylor Swift.

T. Swift’s music is the perfect laxative for tough city girls like me who suffer from seasonal bouts of emotional constipation. The other day I was having my dinner and listening to Taylor’s new album when all of a sudden, I burst into tears for no apparent reason. Taylor is a lyrical genius, I thought to myself while sobbing into my very large bowl of vegetable casserole. 

But I know this year, the cold is coming out swinging. If my only defense mechanism is being an avid emotional eater and a proud Swiftie, then I might as well put a target on my ass and moon winter.

I needed something more concrete. In my daily routine of scouring food websites, I found it. The key to (temporary) winter happiness: a blender.

I thought about this thoroughly. The endless possibilities when you have a blender!  Just think of all the indoor culinary adventures one could engage in this winter! Elaborately made gourmet smoothies, homemade jams, chutneys, almost every home-cooked meal (you’d be surprised at how many meals need a blender),  guacamole…just about anything that requires shit loads of work, patience and washing up later on.

I trudged my way to Sears. Picking the right blender is key (to having fun at Sears). I asked one of the many salesladies who didn’t speak English about which blender would be ideal for me. After making several blender hand gestures and voicing blender sounds to the ESL saleslady, I was finally pointed to the general grinder section. I sifted through the entire family tree of food smashers until the holy Sears spotlight of kitchen appliances fell on my new BFF.

Eton A. Holton was not available at the time for a photo-op. But he’s a fine poser for Paint sketches like these.

His christened name is Eton A. Holton.

I took Eton A. Holton out of his box, gave him a bath and introduced him to his new home in my kitchen. Because I have no patience, I immediately loaded raspberries, blackberries and yogurt into Eton A. Holton. I sealed in the top, plugged him in and hit the grind button. Nothing happened. Eton A. Holton stood there staring at me silently while I stared back confused. 

I removed the berries and the yogurt which was no easy or tidy feat, dismantled everything, put everything together again and screwed the top back on. Again….NOTHING. Eton A. Holton stared at me stubbornly. Angrily. Passively. Stupidly.

What the hell was I doing wrong? I finally had the bright idea of reading the manual. Under the section “How do single girls get Eton A. Holton to work after you stuff him with berries”, it stated that I make sure Eton A. Holton is fully plugged in, stuffed with food (but not too stuffed) and most importantly: put the lid on and close this tightly the right way. 

Eton A. Holton was closed alright. I kept removing the lid and trying out a million different ways to close it, but all in vain. I wanted to cry but couldn’t because only T.Swift has that kind of power over me.

The manual had a phone number for tech support. It hit me, as I collapsed on my kitchen floor in shame, that this was the lowest point in my tough,  city girl single life: having to call tech support for a blender. 

I dropped everything, ate a cookie and thought I’d go back for one last try before I called Sanjay in Mumbai Scott in Maine for help. I must have screwed Eton A. Holton’s top on right this time because the moment I hit his buttons, he smirked and roared into gear.

In four and a half seconds, I had an expertly blended but very disgusting tasting smoothie. 

It was then that I realised how very similar me and Eton A. Holton really are. We are two perfectionists brought together by fate and Sears to teach each some important life lessons. I have learnt three so far:

1) Don’t be such a tight ass. Oftentimes there is more than one right way to do things. 

2) Enjoy the moment. Sometimes the blended fruit of your life’s labors isn’t even close to what you imagined it to be and you realize that the most fun you had was the process of putting it all together and making it work. 

3) Don’t settle. The right person will take the trouble to learn exactly how to turn you on and push the right buttons before you give away your smoothies at the yard. 

I have no more lessons because its only been a week since I’ve had Eton A. Holton. So far, we have made a six month supply of crushed garlic, spinach-chickpea fritters and one expertly blended, disgusting tasting smoothie.

Eton A. Holton hasn’t budged on the right way to turn him on, but he does push the boundaries with how much food he can take.

Lesson 4) Try as you might, you can never eat more than a Holton. (Holton= Hole-ton=Whole-ton…for those of you who didn’t catch my pathetic attempt at wordplay) 

Audience Questions: 1) What are you guys doing to beat the winter blues?

2) Does ANYONE here know how to make a decent smoothie?

Un petit morceau de Montréal

Disclaimer:

Dear French people,

Please forgive the very likely possibility that all my French words/expressions are wrong and/or misplaced. Je suis sorry :(

Last weekend I took a trip to Montreal. Granted it’s already been five eight days (I started this post on Friday)since said trip so some parts of this post might be made-up hazy on the details. The last time I went to Montreal, it was one of those single girl Eat, Pray, Run from hobos weekend.

This time it was more of an Eat, Eat, slow-comatose-jog away-from-hobos type of deal. I learnt a lot about my digestive capabilities, much like how Elizabeth Gilbert learnt how to make millions writing about hers.

Regardless, I tossed a dollar into one certain hobo`s venti Starbucks cup; he was a real entertainer. He was outside the Metro, theatrically jumping up, down and around a milk crate giving a gallant French sermon in a booming voice that would make The Tenors want to tranquilize him, steal his vocal cords and leave him with a ten dollar bill, bleeding from the neck in a ditch behind a Montreal poutineri.

Many people asked me whether I was visiting friends in Montreal or whether I was taking a trip with someone. Apparently,  the idea of going alone for no conceivable reason isn’t something that crosses the minds of normal people. This is why I never update my Twitter. It’s easier to just shrug a no then it is to type ‘Solo getaway to Montreal, bitches!! #foreversingle’.

Is it really so bad  that I find sitting awkward and alone in fancy restaurants infinitely more appealing than taking long knee-busting yet dreamy romantic walks through the cobblestoned streets of Old Montreal? #sarcasm

Speaking of fancy restaurants, I went to many! When I say many, I mean two.

It was Friday night when I had my first food experience. I was perusing online for places to eat when I stumbled on one very close to the Bed and Breakfast I was staying at. It was a tapas place. Tapas make me nervous. Who knows how the hell to order them?

The place I wanted to go to was called Confusion Tapas du Monde. The irony of its name was not lost on me while I spent the next 45 minutes goggling what is tapas and how to order it. The best answer was: Ask your waiter.

I called the restaurant. This was the actual conversation we had:

Tapas waiter: Bonjour!

Karen: Hello sir. Do you speak English?

TW: Yes ma’am. I actually speak very good English.  (Dollop of politeness with rich warm undertones of french sarcasm)

K: Great! I was just wondering….do I need to make reservations for one?

TW: You’re coming for dinner on a Friday night by yourself?

K: Yes.

TW: We can give you a table at the bar.

K: At the bar?! Can I not have a table?

TW: But the bar is actually quite pretty.

K: I’ll think about it.

I thought about it. As much I’d like to brag that I decided to have my Montreal adventure on my own terms, did I really want to sit alone at the bar of a restaurant where I’d be too culturally handicapped to properly place an order?

Of course not! But I went anyway. I have no Eat, Pray, Love reasoning behind embarrassing myself except that I was just very hungry.

Confusion Tapas du Monde. The bar (against the wall) WAS very pretty. Yes, those are swings. Genius.

I had three dishes.

Exaggeration alert: The broccoli soup was THE BEST I ever had. It came in a mason jar. 

The coolest and most ineffective way to eat soup

I also had escargo on a slice of zucchini and some grilled calamari. I couldn’t take pictures of everything on account me looking like a complete moron. So I drew you the closest thing.

I even ate the leaves.

Average rating of Tapas Confusion: 4 out of 5 maple syrup lollipops. An extra half eaten one for the smartass waiter.

_______________________________________________________________

The next restaurant I want to talk about is Verses. This is a restaurant that I stumbled on by accident which is why I’m so pleased with myself. I originally intended to go to another restaurant that I checked out on Trip Adviser  But when I got there, it was looked like a truck pit stop with penis drawings on its Closed sign.

N’importe quoi! (my cheap googled french way of saying whatevvverrr!)

I walked around hungry looking for alternatives but everything seemed unnecessarily expensive. Finally, in the heart of Old Montreal, I found a cheaper oasis called Verses. The interiors were fancy enough. And yet their prices were deceptively cheap(er). $22.00 for a two-course meal was acceptable to me.

I ordered the cream of cauliflower soup because I`m a toothless old woman at heart.

The best part of this soup was that I didn’t need my dentures to have it.

The entrée was where I had a similar conundrum to Confusion Tapas. There were three items I could pick from: 1) Boring salmon. 2) Interesting sounding beef tartare 3) Good ol` steak.

The beef tartare looked very intriguing. Mainly because I had no idea what the hell it was and this weekend was all about treading into the unknown. I had no google on my phone, so I texted one of my friends and asked her. No response. I decided to bite the bullet and asked my french waiter whether he recommended the beef tartare or the steak.

“Madamoiselle, beef tartare is raw beef.“

Steak it was. I`m all for treading into the unknown, but you have to draw the line when the unknown involves the possibility of explosive diarrhea.

My blackberry camera makes everything on this plate look rarer than it actually is

Average rating for Verses: 4 out of 5 maple syrup lollipops. And extra one for the waiter not judging me.

For the sake of this blog post not becoming 72 pages long, I will now only post some more very bad photos I took of my food from all the other places I ate at. This neither diminishes nor takes away from the fancy feel of everything.

Like this whole wheat crepe filled with walnuts, pesto and goat cheese at La Brioche Lyonnaise- a cute little cafe on St. Denis:

I endured three stares and a dramatic eye roll for taking this picture. You’re welcome.

This tiramisu that I took to go without taking a fork.

When our minds fail us, we have hands.

And the most terrible crime of manners in the history of manners: A sneaky shot of the first course of my lovely THREE COURSE homemade breakfast that our host Nathalie made for us. This was poppy-seed bread pudding.

Each following course does get bigger in portion size

And for good measure, here’s the farmer’s market where I got the best honey and maple syrup in the world.

Beautiful fall day at the farmer’s market

I just noticed that there are grapes hanging from the ceiling.

And that was my awesome food adventure in Montreal. I hope you enjoyed these photos as much I enjoyed eating whatever is in them. I have officially decided that a spring and fall trip will be a Karen tradition from now on. Where else would I get honey for my tea?

How to be thankful on Thanksgiving

It seems common belief that holidays of any sort can be hard on singles. Christmas time, the season of nauseating radio play of basterdized Christmas carols and long line-ups for the naked scanner at the airport, is usually tainted by Aunt Bossy at the annual family stroke-inducing holiday dinner.

Everyone has an Aunt Bossy. She’s the one with the candy cane earrings, a pearl necklace and a brooch that says “Jesus is the reason for the season”.  She may or may not be biologically related to you. But this doesn’t stop her from closelining you on your way to the cookie table with well-meaning insults.

“Why are you so thin, Karen? Are you on a diet? Your mother tells me you joined a dating site”, 

“Do you know your cousin Melissa just got engaged to that engineer from Winnipeg? Remember him? You know he has a brother? You’re not getting any younger”

Whether its Christmas, Easter, Sabbath, Black history month or the zombie apocalypse, Aunty Bossy’s solution to the question of the Universe is: find a man as fast as you can.
 
Of course you could shut her up by yelling ‘F*ck cousin Melissa and her goddamn engineer fiance!” promptly causing major family drama, a demotion from cousin Melissa’s wedding party and the lifelong family anecdote of ‘that time when Karen lost her cookies…just 3 seconds before she was about to stuff her empty soul with butterscotch.’
 
But of course you won’t do that. What you probably will do is sit there silently hoping cousin Melissa chokes on her half-price Easter chocolate.
 

Aunt Bossy.This is also pretty much what I will look like 30 years from now.

Apart from Easter and Christmas, there are also other obscure holidays like Labor Day, New Year’s, and if you live in Canada- Family Day and Victoria Day. Not to mention birthdays, baptisms, summer bbqs, anniversaries and of course Thanksgiving.

But for the purpose of this post not becoming any more of one of those angry, woe-is-me, single girl rants, let’s just focus on the real issue at hand: giving thanks on Thanksgiving.

In Canada, thanksgiving is celebrated a little over a month before our American neighbours. Nobody knows the reason for this; it may have something to do with the fact that every year, Canadians need a whole day in the fall to recover from the shock and panic of Environment Canada’s annual prediction that it will be a cold winter.

Thanksgiving, which is predominantly a North American holiday, was never a tradition I grew up with. My family was the kind that showed love by making dry sarcastic comments at each other’s expense. Christmas and birthday gifts were never exchanged and nobody sat around, held hands and talked about their feelings.

Usually I’m just grateful that Thanksgiving exists so I can have a day off. But after living in Canada for the past 8 years, I’m inclined to believe that North American culture dishes out public holidays in order to give malls silly excuses to hold sales so that single people with no families have something to do on their day off.

The only man I’ll ever need is Michael Kors

 But this year I wanted Thanksgiving to be different. None of this feeling sorry for myself bullshit. It was time to go back to the real reason for the holiday: Being grateful for everything.

As it so happened (like it often does), I had no real Thanksgiving plans with family or friends. But that didn’t stop me from starting my own Thanksgiving tradition: Having one day when I truly allow myself to see just how good I have it.

I thought I would go all out and have a hearty turkey dinner for one. But standing in front of the freezer section at my grocery store, I had to come to the acceptance that cooking a turkey, which weighed about the same as a three-year-old child, was perhaps not the most original or feasible idea for a gal like me.

I settled for a small chicken instead.

I’ve never cooked a full roast chicken in my life. The whole day was spent fussing over this damn bird that I had no time to think about all the things us fickle singletons fret about during holidays. To stuff…or not to stuff? (Gordon Ramsey says to pop in half a lemon wedge) How long do I preheat the oven? What if it turns out too dry? And what the hell does basting mean?

In end, I decided to go the heart attack route. No roast chicken can be dry if you cover it with 5lbs of butter and bacon stripes. And would you believe it…here are the results of a whole day’s worth of labor:

Just to drive the point further, that bread was fried in butter.

Never in my life had I ever created anything quite so fattening and delicious-looking. I sat down and said a prayer of thanksgiving. I gave thanks for the food, my life, my health, the fact that Immigratin Canada still hasn’t kicked me out of this country (just yet), the fact that I could still afford to eat a lard-laden meal without collapsing from a massive coronary (just yet), my family, my friends, and my future family, who I’m sure when they someday come along, will be thankful for the fact that there are no vegetables involved in this meal…and the few veggies there are are guiltily swimming in a tub of butter and bacon grease.

I truly had everything I needed this Thanksgiving. Even if Aunt Bossy thought otherwise.

And so this thanksgiving, whether you celebrate it today or a month and a half from now, may you always find something to be grateful for. And if you can’t, there’s always bacon.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of  you out there! :D

 _______________________________________________________________________

Author’s Note: There were no turkeys, aunts, or cousin Melissas harmed in the making of this post. Last I heard cousin Melissa did end up marrying that putz from Winnipeg. Bitch.

Roots to roots: How hair trouble enkindled short-lived patriotic feelings

Today all of you are in for a treat. Not only have I decided to make one of my now exceedingly rare appearances to WordPress (cocky much to believe that this is a treat for anyone?), but I’m also going to give you a little glimpse into my Indian culture that I never bother bragging about to anyone.

If you are avid readers of Ms. Breezyk’s humourous blog, The Camel Life (if not, please stop reading this and click on that link first), then you would have known from one of her fairly recent posts that this hot chick seems to be having some hair trouble. Here, this is a photo of her woe:

Perfectly normal hair.

Do you agree that something needs to be done about those 4 ounces of dark mane on this loveable brunette head? No? Really? Good. Me neither. And I’m not just saying this because I have a not-so-secret girl crush on her. But regardless, I decided to step in and help her out with her hairy conundrum.

I suggested an old Indian hair remedy of dousing one’s hair with coconut oil. I’m not completely sure if this even works since I haven’t ever tried it. I hate the smell of coconut oil in my hair. Not to mention, the sight of your head looking greasier than a Middle Eastern oil well automatically renders you a social outcast. Between my unsucessful attempts at online dating and Breezy’s numerous cat photos, it is clear that times are tough.

Now is not the time for young, single gals like us to be walking man repellents. Our womanly inclination to over-analyze and obsess does that enough.

But back to coconut oil. Other Indians (and some “trusted” sites from Google) swear by it. And there is no reason to question my fellow (wo)men on this. We Indians are a hairy race. Someone must be doing something right (or wrong). So I told Breezy that if she gave me the time of day next week for another one of our wannabe hipster brunch dates, I would have a nice blue bottle of Parachute Coconut Oil (India’s finest) waiting for her. She agreed.

And so, off I set in my mission to help my friend. The task was quite simple. Buy Parachute Coconut Oil so we could turn this:

Smiley Breezy

to this:

Don’t joo get all up in ma weave!- Some hairy baby

Destination Little India, located in a small section of Gerrard Street in Toronto was a place I had only been to once before.

Now let me get something out of the way before I proceed. I am Indian, yes. However, my ties to my Indian roots go only so far as throughly enjoying Indian food. I don’t care for anyone’s useless unfavorable opinions about curry, I will down that shit like it has power to give life. Not only is curry the Indian word for deliciously delicious, it is also richly packed with antioxidants. True fact, all you avid inhalers of genetically modified blueberries!

Unfortunately, that’s as far as my emotional bond to my homeland goes. I think saris are horrible creations for midgets like me who need to be able to run from their stalkers without constantly tripping over 5 million meters of cloth. And let’s not speak of Bollywood movies. That’s a bitch fest that could go on for at least a week. Coincidently, that’s also how long a Bollywood movie lasts.  

I pondered over the love I don’t have for Indian things like saris and Bollywood movies and that one batshit crazy bitch who sings EVERY single Indian song in her high-pitched banshee voice that shatters the auditory senses of everyone around and their surrounding five postal codes.

Such is the nature of my love/hate (clearly, mostly hate) relationship with my country. And with this feeling, I slowly got off the streetcar to the instant olfactory explosion of fried everything, incense and curry dreams. It smelled like India, it looked like India and it sounded like India. Minus the pollution and stray animals.

Normally, this is the kind of scene that drives the point further home of how I had become too much of a spoilt North America city child. But at that moment in time, for reasons that elude me completely, I found myself wanting to stay.

Maybe it was the smell of curry that was at the level of amber alert for ambushing my clothes. Or maybe it was the guilt of being completely indifferent. Whatever it was, it drew me in and made me want to be here.

Perhaps the worst (or best?) part was when I found my legs uncontrollably walking into a sari shop. I audibly gasped at everything in there. Yards and yards of beautiful fabrics with beads and sequins and mirrors and handcrafted embroidery.

The Indian saleswoman obviously noticed my dumb tourist look and told me in Hindi that the sari I was looking at was on sale. Out of nowhere I started to bargain with her in Hindi. I didn’t even know I knew enough Hindi to string along a sentence without 97% of it being swear words.

I stood there in that store listening to music featuring the banshee voice and was surrounded by every colour in the rainbow.  I had a stupid grin on my face and an unexplainable feeling of pride.

This was my country. We have annoying music, we’re cheap enough to miraculously learn a language if it means we will get something half price, we have the best curry in the world and if our clothes are any indication of who we are then we have one of the most colourful, vibrant and happy cultures in the world. And for once, I was pretty freaking proud of that.

I would have taken some photos of all the sari stores I went to (yes, all of them. The patriotic feelings were too strong to resist). But I didn’t mostly due to signs like these posted everywhere.

I had easily spent an hour perusing every store and reminiscing  little things from my childhood. I finally made my way to the variety store and picked up one these suckers for Breezy:

Get ready for some hairy goodness!

Alas! All good things must come to an end and soon I was on the streetcar headed back into the city. I spent the entirety of the ride thinking about Little India like how one would think of a first date that they absolutely dreaded at first and yet went frighteningly well in the end.

And so Breezy, here is India’s beauty gift to you: A full head of luscious Kim Kardashian hair at the expense of being an occassional social leper.

As for the rest of you, don’t think I’ve forgotten you guys! I have an Indian beauty gift for everyone today (apart from the gift of myself) (HAHA.)

I hereby give you the recipe for the Gram Tumeric facial mask. Or as I would like to call it The Radiant Indian Bride Face Mask. (You fellas can do this too. No shame in being an Indian bride)

This mask is great for exfoliation, acne and dry skin. Pretty much covers everything annoying that could happen to your face before your big Indian wedding day…or a crappy Monday at the office.

The Radiant Indian Bride Face Mask:

3 tablespoons of gram flour. Gram flour is just the Indian way of saying Chickpea flour. You can find chickpea flour at most bulk food stores.

1.5 teaspoons of tumeric. Tumeric is an antiseptic and the key ingredient in making your face all glowly and radiant. Many believe tumeric is the next super drug that will cure cancer…which may be true. But it also stains like a bitch so don’t go apeshit with the tumeric.

You want to be a radiant Indian bride. Not a jaundiced troll.

2 tablespoons of almond oil. You can substitute with olive oil.

Milk. Pour in just enough to make this all into a thick paste.

Your freshly prepared homemade mask should look something like this:

100% organic!…says my Indian salesman smile.

Once you have that shitty yellowy looking concoction, you may proceed to cover your face with it.

Like so:

A face only a house cat could love.

Yes, my face matches my Captain Morgan shirt. And I look pretty darn happy about it.

Keep that crap on for about 10 minutes and then wash off with cold water.

And voila! Radiant Indian bride face for everyone!

You’re welcome, world.

Riding the bus with Ryan Reynolds

That`s right, children. I sit across The Great Canadian Adonis on the bus.

Now, before you ladies get your panties in a tizzy and you gentlemen abruptly stop reading this, cool all your tail feathers. I don’t usually do this but this is actually going to be a serious post about a life lesson I learnt this morning that I, against my better judgement, decided to share with you. Normally, I  like to keep my blog as light-hearted as possible, restricting it to mostly mindless humor to get you through your caffeine-fuelled robotic lives. However, there comes a time when something so simple and yet so profound happens, that one must tell someone else. Or a bunch of someone elses.

My story began last week when I started riding the Viva bus, a more human pleasant alternative to the TTC (my regular bus). The Viva bus stops at the same stop as the TTC and takes me to the same place where I have to catch my third and final bus to work. For the past week, I`ve been getting on the Viva and sitting directly opposite a man who is a splitting image of the photo you see below:

You think he's coyly smiling at you but really, he's just checking himself out on his tinted car window. (www.coolspotters.com)

He’s usually reading the paper but behind those designer sunglasses he’s really just silently staring into the souls of the unsuspecting working class around him. This was the one piece of excitement I had every morning of last week. Anyway, this Monday morning, I woke  up thoroughly excited at the prospect of starting my week with Ryan Reynolds staring into my soul as any normal hormonal girl would be.

As luck, or lack of it would have it, I got to the bus stop just in time to see the Viva pull in to the stop. I ran  to it like a wild zebra being chasing by a  lion. Alas! I got there just in time to have the doors of the bus close in my face, while the driver shook his head at me in complete indifference. I thought I might burst into tears. Not only was my soul not going to be stared down at today by Ryan, but it was also very likely that I wouldn`t get to work on time seeing as how the chance of missing my third bus was inevitable.

I stood there stewing in a pool of anger and frustration at the driver, at life, at Monday, at Ryan Reynolds, at myself. So caught up was I in my black mood that I didn`t even notice a TTC bus pull in right in front of me a minute later. The TTC bus was like a Nike sweatshop of carpal-tunnel syndrome suffering children…cramped, stale and suffocating.  And it was in that dark place on the TTC bus that I found my reason to write this post.

Even though I missed the Viva , I knew for sure that today, a missed Viva was not going to result in me being late for work because that suffocating TTC actually saved the day.

Now, I`m sure this touching story warms the cockles of your heart and everything, but really… why am I making you read all this bullshit?

Well…let me get up on my pedestal and tell you…

It’s a given that life isn’t always going to be a joyride with Ryan Reynolds. At one point or another I’m sure all of you must have suffered the pain of something you really wanted not working out the way you wanted to or not working out at all. I know I certainly have.

Maybe you came really close to landing your dream job only to have it snatched away from you. Maybe you suffered loss of some kind. Maybe you`re stuck in rut with nothing working out for you. For everything that doesn’t work out, the lesson of missing the Ryan Reynolds bus made me realise there is always another way to get where you want to go.

It may not be the way you planned, but you will get there. It may not be the same time that you planned for, but you will get there. It may not be the most convenient way to get there, but you will get there. And it certainly may not be with Ryan Reynolds sitting across from you, but you know what? You will still get there.  A thousand-and-five shiteous things could get in the way of getting there, but none of that will change the fact that you will get where you need to be at the right time.

 Of course, this goes with an assumption that you’re doing the best you can i.e. getting your ass out of bed, not keeping couch bugs company, applying for jobs before deadlines, running like a wild zebra etc.

 This is probably no new lesson for myself or for anyone else by any means, but its one I find very easy to forget.

 In the end, the one thing you really need for this to happen is hope. And deep (often VERY VERY deep) down whether you know it or not, we`re all hopeful. Even when your whole life is sitting in a large pile of doo-doo, you still hope something  will change. What other choice do you have other than to have hope?

Until then, close your eyes and know that while you are in the sweatshop bus of life, some people will get off and make breathing easier, the road will even out eventually, maybe you might even encounter some kind soul who gives you their seat. But even if none of those things happen, provided you don`t give up and get off, you will eventually get to where you need to be.

And that folks is my Monday sermon for you. *gets off pedestal and googles more Ryan Reynolds’ photos*

Putting the No back in Mo’vember

A couple of days ago I was at the Orthopedic surgeon’s office for a follow-up appointment of my broken foot. The lady at the reception asked me to go straight in for an X-ray. I hobbled over to the x-ray waiting room and ten minutes later, my name was called.

I turned around and came face to face with a beautiful man who we will call Ross the Radiologist. Ross the Radiologist was about 5′ 10″ with brown hair, blue eyes and a smile that revealed perfectly straight white teeth.

And when he set up my foot for the x-ray, his wedding band flashed into my face.

Normally, wedding bands for me are the biggest turnoff and any mission to attempt conversation is aborted. But my silence this time had nothing to do with Ross the Radiologist’s marital status and everything to do with the monstrous badger that lived on his upper lip.

For the rest of the walk back to the waiting room, I puzzled over why Ross the Radiologist purposely marred his otherwise perfect face with that demonic moustache. And after much thought, it hit me. Tis the month of Movember.

Ross the Radiologist and his ‘stache, Richard the Rapist

                                            ____________________________________________________________

Before I shoot off about the godawful ugliness of these ‘staches, I want to say something about this campaign. The growth of Movember staches may be a crime but they are a crime only second to prostate cancer. Last year’s Movember campaign raised an impressive $23.3 million (CDN), all of which (I hope) went to Prostate Cancer Canada. Globally, the Movember campaign last year raised a staggering $76.88 million. These figures are no joke. Clearly, ugliness pays off. In this instance at least.

Now, back to the inevitable rant that you are going to have to hear regardless:

As much as I know that this is for a good cause, and that the guys are really sacrificing their face and their dignity, this is clearly quite painful for both guys and girls. For 11 months a year, its easier to separate the “regular” guys from the pedophiles, pornstars and peeping-toms.  But then, there’s that one month known as Movember when ALL of them seem to look like they forgot to shave because they spent an entire week hiding up in trees that look straight into the bedrooms of little children.

What did us women folk do when we wanted to raise awareness for breast cancer? We told everyone the color of our bras. And then the following year, we told them where we like “it”. I don’t have the figures of how much money the sexualized breast cancer campaign didn’t raise, but from the looks of it I’m starting to believe that we clearly we went about it the wrong way.

Maybe we should have stopped shaving our legs and waxing our unibrows instead of giving people intimate details of our lingerie. The term for that, I believe, is feminism. But as we all know, feminism doesn’t pay much these days. At least not as much as sex and ugliness.

The other day I read a hilarious status update from an old friend Hanna Kassab on his latest moustache misery. Only then did I begin to realise how much grief Movember is causing:

” Forget it, this Movember thing isn’t working. People say “hey mane, what you’re doing is awesome, so proud, even though you look like a perve, lol!” STFU, you think I’m doing this for style? DONATE!”

Let’s face it. Movember is making people miserable. The guys repel anything feminine and the girls can’t stare at their radiologists without wondering whether he produces pornos in his basement. I have to wonder, are some sacrifices really necessary to make in order to yield the desired results?

Today is the middle of the month. Instead of subjecting ourselves to 15 mo’ days of this madness, could we not donate money to the shaving off of facial hair altogether instead? Could we not try to beat prostate cancer by looking our best instead of our worst? Could we maybe donate money to the guys for grooming themselves well instead? Or for adopting good manners?

As my friend Hanna would later say:

“I need to change tactics. IF PEOPLE DONATE ANOTHER $50, I PROMISE TO SHAVE.”

His frustrations only made people donate more money if he kept the stache. One more lash against prostate cancer, one less date for Hanna.

At the end of the month, after all the grumbling and complaining, it’s about how much money you were able to raise. Whether it was done by keeping that pedophile moustache on your face till the bitter end or whether it was done by promising to rid the world of its ugliness, that is totally irrelevant.

If the only way to raise money is by keeping a moustache on your face for a month, then so be it. The stache may be ugly, but cancer is uglier.  But if there is any other way, any other legal, moral and ethical way at all to raise money for cancer without you looking like Nacho Libre’s cousin, then please, for the sake of everything holy…let’s go with that instead.

If you would like to donate to Hanna’s cause, please click on this link:

http://us.movember.com/mospace/2348546/index/dp/1

He’s taking donations for both: keeping the stache to the very end and donations to put him out of his misery.

And finally, to Ross the Radiologist, Hanna and all you other mo’stachers out there, I know all I did was complain and rant while you heroically put on your best ugly moustache for a very good and noble cause. You guys are troopers; I applaud you and sincerely admire you. I may not like that facial abomination but I’m guessing that you probably don’t either. Next Movember, if you decide to train for and run a 10K instead of harboring a small woodland creature on your face, I won’t admire you any less.

I need your help!

Let me start with my problem. You see, for the past 28 days, all I have been doing is waking up at 11 in the morning, watching Bold and the Beautiful, streaming movies, and drinking copious amounts of milk in hopes that it will heal my broken foot. The highlight of my day is taking a shower. Getting into a tub with one leg is a one-hour circus act, let me tell you!

So needless to say, life is tough. Clearly, I’ve been about as busy as a one-legged man at a butt kicking contest. But I have to be strong and keep trudging on…. doing absolutely nothing (thanks for the sympathy so far). If you asked me 28 days ago pre-foot breakage, I would have told you what all of you are thinking by now anyway. This is the perfect vacation. Exactly what I needed.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I dying to go back to work but I would like to be able to walk to Starbucks again and get myself a latte. Possibly toy with the possibility of having a social life again. Which brings me to the problem at hand:

Maybe its all the soap operas and mindless movies I’ve been watching. Maybe its all the milk I’ve been drinking that’s making me a human gas chamber (why would I tell you this? gross.) Maybe it’s sitting around all day doing nothing.

Maybe its all of the above and more that is making my brain like play dough in water, but my blogging is taking a downward spiral. The one thing I have left that convinces me I’m still somewhat intellectual and sane, is slipping. I have nothing to blog about.

Now wait, that’s not completely true. I do have a host of blogging topics that I could fire away, but unless you want to hear about me spending my days doing nothing, or the mild shock my body when through when I all of a sudden decided it was in my broken foot’s best interest to have a “calcium-rich diet” consisting of spinach and milk, or how I sleep 10 hours everyday, I got NOTHING for you. Ya hear me? Nothing.

This broken foot of mine has mostly been a block of epic proportions: a work block, a friend block, a Starbucks block, a cockblock…and the worst of all, writer’s block.

So I need your help. Since my usual ration of freaks, freak accidents and mishaps have been cut off for at least another few weeks, what can I blog about? Maybe you want my humorous take on something? Maybe you want me to talk about a particular topic? Anything at all that piques your interest? Or maybe you just want me to shut the hell up? Because I will even take that and go on with my life of movies and idleness.

So if you do have something in mind or you happen to think of something, please comment on this blog post (or shoot me an email) and let me know. I would love to hear from all of you. Maybe I might not be able to cover every single suggestion. Maybe some of your suggestions might suck. But I promise I will at least consider every single one of them.

Thank you all for reading. Hopefully, you will have a lot more interesting reads soon. But if you don’t, you’ll only have yourself to blame for that ;)

Good foot to heaven, Bad foot to hell

Ever since that fateful night of that disastrous bunny hopping, people have been trying to give me advice on how to recuperate my broken foot.

My mother, who seemed to have forgotten that I was barefoot when I broke my foot, told me not to wear high heels ever again because “don’t you know you are beautiful as you are without being tall?”. My uncle told me not to stand up, sit down, bend my knees or jump on a trampoline. My dad told me not to take pain medication and that it was imperative to my healing that I immediately set out on a 24 hour journey to Kuwait if I had any chance of walking again…

While all of this was said with well-meaning hearts and good intention, it was utterly useless to me. What I really wanted was to talk to people who’ve had broken feet before. I wanted to know how they managed everyday tasks.

Like how to keep a screen door from slamming in your face, how to transport microwave dinners from the kitchen to computer desk on crutches, how long did it take for their broken feet to heal, the best way to give yourself a pedicure when you get bored and whether temporary insanity was a normal symptom of fractured bones…you know things that well-meaning, never before crippled people wouldn’t actually be able to tell me.

The problem I found was that people who had never broken a foot bone before suddenly became experts on metatarsal repair. They developed a verbal diarrhea of advice for broken foot recuperation. But the people whose opinions really mattered (i.e. previously broken people, nurses, doctors, radiologists and surgeons) all felt the need to show tremendous respect for my vast (non-existent) knowledge of rehabilitation and would stop themselves abruptly telling me the one dreaded line I have come to hate to the core of my existence: “…ohh why am I blabbering on with this advice. This is what you went to school for. You probably know how to deal with this way better than I do.”

The answer to that is a loud resounding HELL NO! The truth is I have no fart of a clue on how to deal with this. I think back on all the all-nighters I pulled and nothing in those flower doodled notes indicated any practical training for real life situations. In fact, I will come clean to the whole wide world right now and tell you that my four-year kine program came with no instructions on how to rehabilitate ANYTHING.

Everything I learnt about rehabilitation, I learnt at my workplace. And since most of our patients shy away from poorly planned bunny hopping church games, I haven’t seen too many multi-metatarsal fractures in my time.

I looked through my old kinesiology books…the ones I bothered keeping. I was reminded of how to calculate angular velocity, perhaps to show me how fast I will crack my vertebral column if I twist at an awkward angle to pick up an M&M off the floor.  I relearnt the concept of static and dynamic equilibrium, neither one of which I currently possess but hope to someday. And of course, the concept of gravity which we all know is the reason why I’m in this mess in the first place. Absolutely nothing practical.

What broken footed people needed to know were things like the most effective way of propping pillows to maximise drainage of foot inflammation and how to use your crutches as mops, door-closers and pretend Uzis to amuse oneself  when times get tough.

I racked my brains through the pages of information on physiology and sports psychology that I only ever used for scantron sheets and came up with a blank. Not only was I going through a foot crisis, I was now also going through a quarter life career crisis. This is something I’m told every 25-year-old with a fracture of the second and third metatarsal goes through.

I was wallowing in this sespit of self-pity at my seemingly useless kine degree the other day wondering if there was anything…anything at all that I would be able to use in this situation.

Many years ago (summer of 2007) I took a course on Athletic Injuries. It wasn’t in my list of requirements for the program. I took it as an elective. In essence, this course was taken for shits and giggles. Essentially, this was probably the most practical course that any university could offer. I could have completed this one course and went into the workforce and wouldn’t have had any less knowledge than I did going in with a $70, 000.00 piece of paper proving how smart I am. 

Now this course was taken a long time ago, so my brain seems a little rusty with all the specifics but I do remember one line that will stick with me forever. “Good leg to heaven, bad leg to hell”. It was the golden rule of stair climbing for the stair-climbing impaired. “Always remember this folks, even if you remember nothing else from this course”, Professor Gus would say. “Good leg to heaven, bad leg to hell”.

Excited with this nugget of knowledge, I bravely hopped over to the stairs. I held on to the staircase tightly. With a trembling broken footed leg, I put my good foot on the first stair. I had done it!! I had climbed a step!!

Of course, I needed to outdo myself. If I could do one step, I could do a whole flight of them. And in 25 minutes, I had done a whole flight of them. Never in my life before had such a miniscule thing felt like such an incredible achievement. Maybe my degree wasn’t entirely a waste of life.

Sadly, that was all I could remember. The rest I’ve been figuring out as I go along. Here are few of the things I learnt about fractured metatarsals that my degree did not teach me:

- When sleeping at night, your malfunctioning foot needs to be elevated above heart level. This is easily achieved with one pillow. One does not need to prop it on three pillows, a military blanket and a dictionary. All this does is give you a sleepless night and severe back pain. You may want to give your crap foot optimal care but be kind to the rest of your body parts. After all, they are all pitching in and working overtime to help out.

- It is normal to curse inanimate objects to painful deaths when one bumps their  foot against them. Don’t worry, they usually don’t return the same courtesy.

- The one-crutch usage is a myth. You either use both crutches or use none at all. The only exception to this rule is when you use one crutch to beat people who point and laugh at you.

- In light of the circumstance, the 5 second rule temporarily changes to the 10 second rule.

- Pain medication is what doctors administer to help you sleep. Sleep is what pain medication administers to help with pain.

- Be smart when trying to clean your tub. The smart thing to do is to not clean any tubs.

- Discover God. Sometimes the need for spirituality is born out of catastrophe and trauma. But a lot of time it’s just born out of having too much time on your hands and a need to talk to someone with a delightfully incomprehensible sense of humor.

- Light weight-bearing exercises, a giant boot cast, calcium and Vitamin D are all wonderful things the doctors and literature recommend to get you up and running. But the most important factor that they fail to mention is patience.

- This too shall pass.

And so there you have it. If you ever find yourself with a broken foot (God forbid), you now have the expert advice of a kinesiologist on hand to fall back on. And don’t worry, I have a degree to support it ;)

Are you there Pinot? Its me, Karen

So I’ve been quite a cranky old bitch lately (read: past 3 weeks month 3 months). I’d like to think that there are a number of reasons why this strange phenomenon has come to be. I’m usually quite a sugar peach to be around. And by sugar peach I may mean cynical smartass dressed as a sugar peach. But since I sometimes give nickels to hobos (charity and kindness) and I refrain from killing people just because they are annoying (forgiveness and tolerance) its only fair to classify me as a selfless sugar peach.

The only major incident I can think of that would change my peachy personality to bitch mode is the recent denial of my Immigration application. But lets get real. One is able to cream off sympathy for major life disappointments only for so long before someone else you know one-ups you with a bigger life disappointment of their own and ruins everything. Assholes.

While most people have nervous breakdowns after major life disappointments, I tend to have  more of a slow painful release of rage which stretches itself out. It isn`t so much the major life shattering events that shake my being, rather it is the little everyday instances of non-winning moments that send me in to bursts of intense irritation. Things like missing a bus by 30 seconds, running out of shampoo, people who contribute nothing to society but coffee breath, that Nicki Minaj girl and her pink haired cronies swimming in oceans of liquid pink laxatives …don’t feel free to stop me..

Now before you all slip on your silky judgement panties and silently sentence me to life in Anger Management, I don’t burst a vein every 5 times an hour when I hear Super Bass on the radio. Usual annoyances come with the territory of living in society with other (debateably) civilized human beings. All I’m saying is, for me when life poops on my dreams, instead of losing my marbles and throwing tampons at innocent bystanders, I just internally fume and shoot superiour looks at the sillier members of the human race. I’m okay with looking like a bitch…just not a crazy one.

Anyway, where am I going with all this? I don’t know. Oh yeh, anger management. The way I deal with it is usually I stay home and spare the community of my social genocidal tendencies. Behind closed doors, I practice the art of gastronomical pretentiousness where I help myself to a crusty loaf of French bread, a slab of goat cheese, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a glass of wine and a large plate of hateration for everything and everyone. Food  knows disappointment better than anyone else. It does not judge the fact that you complain about these silly first-world problems. It does not compare your situation to someone elses bigger life disappointment and tell you be grateful. Food knows that that’s not what you want to hear, and even if it is what you HAVE to hear, food knows that telling you that doesn’t make the slightest bit difference in how you feel. No, you have friends to defend the silver lining. Food is there to momentarily comfort you when you’re too blind to accept that there is a silver lining and your friends are too blind to see that.

So all that being said, you can imagine the pickle I was in when not only did my application get turned down but I got the worst attack of acid reflux. Not only did those immigration bastards ruin my life, they also ruined my appetite. Acid reflux is by far more frustrating than it is serious. I had to avoid everything in life that gave me the tiniest bits of delight in these dark ages. Coffee (goodbye Starbucks *tear …gut-wrenching sobs*), tea, balsamic vinegar, lime juice and every other fruit juice, fruit,  ice tea, spicy food, hot sauce, tom yum soup, chocolate, sugar, fried foods and the worst one of them all…wine.

This left me with bread, water and sushi. Not even those biblical folks sacrificed like this. Agreed they all had shittier life situations than not being able to pop into Starbucks. But at least they had wine. And when they didn’t, Jesus made it for them because even he knew that there’s only so much rejection a girl disciple can take.

And so friends, if you’re ever in a gastronomical tight spot and you feel like the world is going to end with every morsel of food, don’t fret. I have compiled a list of symptoms, some that you will find in any literature on acid reflux and some you will come across that no medical website will tell you. In addtion to not fretting, please don’t google symptoms either. Apparently, acid reflux shares the same symtoms with a rare, untreatable form of stomach cancer which renders you only two hours to live. 

  • Stomach pain: This one is the most common.
  • Burning sensation in the stomach: especially when you drink vinegar, Drain-o and other acid based drinks and food.  
  • Chest pain: Pain going down your chest area when you eat your favorite food.
  • Chest squeezing: Pain when your stomach tries to reject all of your favorite foods.
  • Heart attack: Combination of chest pain and chest squeezing.
  • Neck pain: From sleeping in an upright position to stop you favorite food from creeping up your oesophagus. Usually, it manages to break the law of gravity anyway.
  • Fear: Because you think you’re having a heart attack all the time.
  • Constipation: Usually from stress of dealing with a government who doesn’t give a shit (pun intended), heart attacks and not eating enough to form a significant amount of poo.  
  • Grunting: Because you begin to assess your life and you find that you’re a foreigner trying to sell that last functional organ to pay taxes, you have not been able to eat or drink for the last two months, your stomach hurts for no apparent reason, you’ve had 49 heart attacks and you haven’t taken a dump in a week.

This all happened back in July. Now its October. Some things are  still the same. I’m still a foreigner living pay cheque to pay cheque. But while time may not have completely healed my wounds pride, it has healed my stomach. I am now able to drink coffee. I haven’t started drinking drain-o just yet though.

What remains to be seen is if my stomach will open its acid-damaged heart to wine. I think its time.No more of this heartburn immigration government-hating nonsense. It was time to move on and stop blaming the government for my inabilty to eat and excrete. Letting someone else steal my life disappointement thunder in lieu of a glass of wine seemed like a more than fair trade off. So yesterday, I slowly made the monumental walk into LCBO and picked out a cheap French Pinot Noir. I had one glass with dinner, shed a tear or two and waited for the heartattack. None came.

I waited until I woke up this morning because defying acid reflux like that is much like having a one-night stand with a cute guy from the bar. Great idea the night before… pain, suffering and regret the next morning. When I woke up with no heart attack this morning, I was so excited I wrote a blog post about it.

 And so that is my compelling no frills story of acid reflux. Its a big problem with little that can actually be done. Most over the counter antacids work for a total of 15 minutes after you pop about seven and a half of them. The best remedy I found is Zantac and patience.  Maybe at the end of the day, that’s what I had to learn from all of this. Patience with myself, patience with others and patience with God. I know my cranky old bitch  selfless sugar peach phase required a hellova lot of patience from my friends and society. Patience I cared not to have for them in return.

Also, most problems cease to exist when you stop giving them so much attention, stop finger pointing and move on.