Of all the things that have changed, blow-drying avocados is not one of them

Happy New Year you guys!!

Yes, it has been exactly 9 months since my last post. That’s enough time for a whole human being to come into existence. (This is NOT the reason for my disappearance)

It seems that I’ve been through a series of life changes over the last 9 months. And not changes like, Oh hayyyyy…I bought a new plant.

No, I mean real changes!

1) I got a new job- no more skinny jeans to work, just corporate rags. That’s right…CORPORATE. And ‘corporate’, as we call know, is just another word for I have better looking people on my commutes.

2) I moved. I used to live in a basement with small windows.l have now upgraded!! :D

Now I live in a basement with big windows). More importantly, it has shortened my commute time from one hour and a bus full of mass murderers to 30 mins and a couple of hobos.

3) I got a new boyfriend. Guys!  I’m now actually dating an real human male,  not a Ryan Gosling meme. I was able to  confirm that we’re boyfriend/girlfriend when he changed his profile picture on Facebook (you know shit’s real when…)

I thought this might be a good place to pick up where we left off- with big changes. I considered  changing my blog name and starting over but that made no sense. This was what I built everything on. But I will admit there will probably be some changes in content:

- Won’t have any more of my single girl escapades. We all know that was the cornerstone of this blog.

- Won’t talk about the suburb freaks on public transit. Now it will be the urbane freaks. Freaks all the same.

*Another new development that was totally missed out the first time around*- My best friend Bernice, who I have been friends with for over 10 years, got married (I wrote her a kick ass Maid of Honor speech) AND MOVED DOWN THE STREET FROM ME!!. Buh bye, Skype.  Hello many after work happy hours and pie dates!

On the flip side, here are the things that did not change:

- I still take public transit,

- I still live in Toronto ( Immigration Canada still sees me fit to live here.)

- I still find myself browsing feminist Ryan Gosling memes at 2am. Apparently dating someone does not magically make Ryan memes any less addictive. Sometimes I look at Grumpy Cat memes too.

- I still come home from work and lounge around with Suits/Mad Men/Dexter reruns.

This blog will be different but still the same as The Chronicles. It’s still me, just facing different things. But still blow-drying avocados in the winter.

Its good to be back, folks. Again. ;)

What have all you guys been up to when I was gone?!

Unbreak my Umbrella

As per usual, I have taken one of my increasingly frequent leave of absences from WordPress. But I decided to come back, red-faced with shame, with this little cartoon strip. In case you were wondering how my patriotic honeymoon with Canada has been going, wonder about this no more. 

This has been the story of my (Canadian) life since you last heard from me. As you can see, in less than three months, I have become an expert Canada-complainer, diving enthusiastically into the realm of complaining through badly drawn cartoons even. 

This particular event happened yesterday:

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And that’s what I have been up to since December.  

But I’m back! :D

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?

Let’s be Friends!

…is a line I’ve heard too many times before. But never at 6:45 in the morning when I’m barely trying to keep myself from falling into a coma, let alone think of a clever way to counter some uncalled for a.m. flirtage. That was until a couple of days ago when I was ran in a panic stricken daze to catch the 36, the first of 3 buses I had to take to work every morning. I was angry enough at this inconvenient transportational arrangment that social niceties were not something on the breakfast menu.

So anyway, it was a Thursday morning and like any Thursday morning, the coffee cup was half-full with the prospect of the upcoming weekend and half-empty because I had drunk half my coffee and still wasn’t too thrilled about having to face two more work days.

I was about to cross the major intersection that separated me from my bus stop. This was one of those mornings where my bus was making its way to the bus stop and I knew I wouldn’t be able to legally cross the road to get to it in time. So in an effort to not be late for another day at my dream job of ultrasounding feet and groins, I broke the law and jayran across the street to catch my bus.

The bus driver turned out to be an Indian man with a Santa Claus beard. If you have read my previous blog post ‘The New and Improved Boyfriend Screening Process’ (please read it if you haven’t), you will know that Santa Claus beards are one of the single most successful cockblocks of all time.

This is what ensued after I got on the bus:

Santa Claus Singh: “Oh! Now I know you can run!”

Karen: “What? oh..uhh…yes.”

Santa Claus Singh: “Are you going to work?”

I couldn’t tell him that I liked taking the bus at 6:30 in the morning just to engage in some tomfoolery with Santa Claus.

Karen: “Yes, I’m going to work.”

Santa Claus Singh: “What do you work as?”

Gone are the days when Santa Claus, the ever nosy busybody just wanted to know whether you were naughty or nice. Now he wants to know what you do for a living.

Karen: “I’m a kinesiologist.”

Santa Claus Singh: ‘A kiniosolist?’

Karen: “Exercise therapist”.

Quick Lesson: When someone cannot pronounce your profession, change it.

Santa Claus Singh: “Oh soo nice. You are like a therapist. A healer. You heal.”

What kind of imbecilic zero did we have here? I could tell that for Santa, ‘healer’ was just another word for good-looking woman who would not only tolerate a copious amount of quarter-life-crisis-inducing pickup  lines, but would also think he was the catch of a lifetime. Oh goody.

Before I knew what was happening, Santa Claus pulled out his business card.

Santa Claus Singh: “I drive this bus by day, but this is my true passion in life”. He pointed at his passion on his business card.

It said:

Santa Claus Singh.

Mortgage Agent

Santa Claus Singh looked expectantly at me. Expecting me to gawk in awe at his passion card I guess. I tried to cut the awkwardness with some light humor.

Karen: “Oh hahahaha…are you trying to sell me a house?”

Santa apparently didn’t think this was a good joke because I was the only one laughing.

Just then, by the mercy of Jesus, some other passengers who just got on had some questions about bus routes. I was blissfully relieved of this useless waste of time conversation. Sure, being on a bus is a waste of time to begin with. But talking to this man was a double waste of time since I could be spending this time staring at the floor dreaming of jam sandwiches and sandcastles.

My stop finally came around. Just as I was about to exit the bus, Special Mortgage Agent Santa claws his way into one final attempt at closing this deal with the healer.

Santa Claus Singh: “Wait! I want you to know one thing. I was NOT trying to sell you house. You understand?? NOT trying to sell you house!”

I nodded dumbly trying to get the hell out of the bus. But he continues on…

Santa Claus Singh: “I gave you my card because I want to be friends with you and know you. Will you call me? My number is on the card. Call me. Let’s be friends.”

Karen: “Okay. Bye.”

The problem is that there are way too many freaks who want to be my ‘friend’ and not enough crack to handle these friend requests. I have friends. Real friends. Real friends who know that at 6:30 in the morning, what you truly need is a non- fat latte and a gun. Not another friend.

Blue pants and other problems

Have you ever had those days or weeks when EVERYTHING is going right? Your hair looks like you stepped out of a Pantene commercial, your bus pulls in right when you get to the stop, you get all the crunchiest fall leaves to step on and your spinach cooks to perfection (if your definition of perfection is edible) …. Well, this was not one of those weeks.

This Monday I woke up with bed hair that made Medusa look like a Disney princess, the only clean clothes I could find were a pair of electric blue pants and my bus decided not to show up entirely. It was the kind of day where I looked like a walking Lady Gaga-inspired Starbucks commercial with a Venti and a crazy eye. 

On the day`s agenda was surviving work and reapplying for health care benefits. Health care as it turns out is something I provide and yet not entitled to receive due to immigration reasons I wish not to discuss with the general populace at this time. And so in order to obtain these coveted health care benefits, I left work early. I had all my documents in order. I had an umbrella  for the rain. I had an iPod to play rain music (Coldplay). Folks, if its one lesson I can teach you in this lifetime its this: No day can be good when there’s rain and electric blue pants involved.

For starters, my umbrella broke gave up. It said “Screw you, you frightening-looking hellcat!”. In those words exactly. It took me an hour to get to the Service Ontario office. I took a number and was told my wait time would be 50 minutes. I must have looked like I just come from an audition for ‘The Village People: The Musical’ because I spent 50 minutes having new immigrants (mostly South Asian of some sort) staring at my blue pants and their South Asian immigrant children staring at my rain-beaten Gaga hair. I gave them all the crazy eye.

Finally my turn comes and the conversation with the old Indian man government worker goes something like this:

(Sarcasm, which is in italics, was clearly spoken although not made audible.)

Old Indian man: “What are you here for?”

Karen: “OHIP. Here’s my application stuff.”

I proudly slide all my up to date documents to him. Old man carefully peruses through the sheaf of papers.

Old Indian man: “All seems in order.”

Karen: ‘Of course its in order! Do I look like a disorganised person!?’, I think to myself while glaring at him with my crazy eye. *smiles*

Old Indian man: “Alright, do you have proof of address?”

Karen: “Proof of whaaa?…”

Old Indian man: “Proof of address. Do you have something with your name and  address on it? Like a driver’s license?”

Karen: “I don’t have one. Why do you need it anyway? I have all the documents for the application here. They never asked me for this the last time I applied.”

I rummage through my purse. And by the mercy of the Good Lord Almighty I find my cheque book. I happily hand the cheque book to the old man. It very clearly showed my name and address.

Old Man: “Sorry lady, I can’t accept that. That’s not valid. Do you have a T4 tax form?”

Karen: (Author’s Note: For those of you familiar with my immigration situation, let not the irony of this question be lost on you) A T4 tax form?! Why, of course I have a T4 tax form! Hold on while I call the ‘Game Over, You’re Screwed’ department of the Universe because the last time someone asked me for a T4 tax form, that’s who had it. “I don’t have a T4.”

Old man: “What about your Notice of Tax Assessment?”

The man asked me this as if it’s the most common practice for people to carry around their tax returns in their wallet. I humored him by rummaging through my purse just to waste time.

Karen: “I don’t think I have it on me right now.” ‘I must have forgotten to put it in along with my nunchucks and mints this morning.’

Old man: *slides my papers to me*. Sorry, no address, no health care.

Karen: ‘You bastard! I hope your shirt gets caught up in your coat zipper and a pigeon comes out of nowhere and shits in your coffee.’ “But I took time off from work to get here. I have everything! Please don’t send me back. Please.”

Old Man: “Sorry. We are open here till 7pm. We are here to help you”

Karen: ‘I hope someone helps you to a generous face slapping and then steals all your paper clips.’ “Thanks, you’ve been a big help.”

Old man:Anytime.’  “Anytime.”

What a moron. 

I walked out into the rain. The upside to this was that I didn’t have to get my picture taken for this God forsaken health card. Because crazy eye pictures are only for mug shots, private drunken Facebook photos and Driver’s licences. It will be alright, I told myself. I’ll go to Shoppers, buy a new umbrella and then go home, have some tea and chocolate. That’s my solution to such problems. Trans fat and a nap.

I make my way to Shoppers. The sales associate looks at me.

Karen: “Do you have umbrellas?”

Sales Associate: “We did. We’re out of them at the moment”

What?

What? I HOPE YOU ALL DIE!!  Don’t look at me disapprovingly for saying that. Last time I checked, we’re all going to die anyway.

Moral of the Story: Never wear blue pants on a rainy day. Also, don’t drink 20 ounces of coffee.

Only 4 more days to Friday

 This year I actually didn’t give up anything for Lent. But I did tell myself I would try to complain less. And while most of you who know me and talk to me on a regular basis would laugh at this, I would like to point out that the key word here is ‘try’. No one’s making any solid promises. This morning though, simply by virtue of being a piss-down rainy Monday, it was one of those mornings that everyone loved to hate. I left home well before time and still had to stand out in the rain for 15 minutes waiting for my bus because of some delays. And it seemed like all my fine fellow commuters were in the same plight. Everyone looked like they were going to punch someone in the face any second.

I knew I was going to miss my connecting YRT bus. This time, there actually was no hope. I was going to be late for work and there was nothing I could do about it. So instead of bitching about my lack of control of the situation, I tried to think of how I was going to kill half an hour until the next YRT. Since my stop is at York University, I wandered into York Lanes. The aroma of freshly baked goods got my attention.

Finally, I ended up spending the half hour enjoying a straight-out-of-the-oven almond croissant and a cappuccino.

And yes, I took a picture because I needed it to remind myself of three things:

1) A freshly baked croissant and a foamy cappuccino are the answer to most of the problems that pop into your head on a Monday morning.

2) No matter how early you leave your house, you are never in control of life, the weather and public transit.

3) Missing your bus by 30 seconds is actually not the end of the world.

This could have been put in a smartly worded Facebook status update but I thought it was important enough to warrant a blog post. Let the record show that for now, the cappuccino cup is still half full.  

Crazy things my patients say

Disclaimer: The names and ages in this post have been changed or modified.

Dorothy is one of the most upbeat and vibrant patients we have at the clinic. She is also one of the oldest. At her senior citizen age, she still makes the dirtiest jokes I’ve ever heard, goes to dance parties and enjoys Tom Yum soup at the local Thai place. She has a host of mildly serious to pretty freaking serious health issues. But that doesn’t stop the endlessly positive attitude…or the dirty jokes.

Some of Dorothy’s gems include: “You know I used to be 36D…now I’m a 36 long.”

Or, “Karen, I got you a Christmas present, dear. It was a delicious man but I decided to keep him for myself and got you some scented candles instead. You’re on your own, kid.”

Today, she stopped me in my tracks with her latest one liner. I was going through some stretches with her on the bed while she was talking to me about something. At one point, she started to laugh and I saw something in her mouth.

Me: “Why, Dorothy! Is that your name written inside your mouth?” (Yeh, this old woman had her name written on side of her left gums.)

Dorothy: “Yes, dear. You see my dad lost his teeth at the nursing home and we could never find that darn thing. So I thought I’d have them write my name in mine when I got them done.”

Me: “That’s great idea. Especially if you are at the hospital or something and you misplace them.”

Dorothy: “That’s what I told my orthodontist.”

And then without warning…

“But between you and me, darlin’, the real reason I want my name in them is that if I’m lying in the missionary postion, I would want the old geezer to know my name, just in case he forgot in the middle of it.”

Never a dull moment.

Dating Epiphanies

I was exercising with one of my older patients today and she started a conversation about the weather…which eventually turned to immigration and then of course to dating. The dating conversation is a popular favorite among the old ladies, second only to the terrible weather and immigration. 

Old Indian (slightly whacked out) lady to me: “It wasn’t that cold outside today!”

Me: “Yeh! Its supposed to get warmer towards the end of the week.” I mumbled some other bullshit about rain, spring, slush and the weather network.

Indian lady: “So, have you heard anything from immigration?”

Me: “Nope”

Indian lady: “Hmm…are you Indian?”

Me: “Yes”.

Indian lady: “Are you muslim?”

Me: “No”

Indian lady: “Do you have a partner?”

Me: (partner?) “No.”

Indian lady: “Shouldn’t you be having one?”

Me: “I suppose”

Indian lady: “Have you tried shaadi.com? Its very effective.” (Quick glossary: shaadi.com = Indian matrimonial site committed to matching up doctors with engineers, engineers with lawyers and lawyers with doctors. I’m not a  member only because I’m clearly in none of those professions and hence automatically rendered unmatchable)

Me: “No.”

Indian lady: “Do you want to marry my son? He’s single, has two Masters degrees and works in IT”

Me: “No”

Indian lady: “Are you sure? Don’t you need your Immigration papers?” (well played, Indian lady. Well played)

Me: “How old is your son?”

Indian lady: “37.”

Me: “No.”

Indian lady: “He looks like Prince William”

Me: “No. Would you like a heat pack?”

Indian lady: “He makes a lot of money. And he looks like Prince William”

Me: “No.”

Indian lady: “I think you’re too picky”

It occured to me that I had just turned down a balding, 37 year old Indian guy working in IT who apparently looked like British royalty. I guess I actually am a little too picky.

Oh well…another one bites the dust.

Thank God for Thor

The day began as any other. With the alarm clock. My phone is set to an alarm that sounds like a warning signal in a maximum security prison…and so it is only natural that I’m barged out of my blissful sleep on a daily basis. I was having a complicated dream involving Amy Winehouse and an earthquake but it’s obviously a blur to me now.

It was Monday, and while I usually moan and groan on the way to the bathroom, when I saw that the temperature this morning was going to be a couple of degrees above zero, I actually lightened up. So maybe I should not have spent a million hours trying to figure out what to wear this morning. Or maybe I should have packed my lunch last night. Or maybe  I shouldn’t have insisted on straightening my hair considering that it was pissing rain outside.

But let’s not talk about my laziness and vanity for a second and concentrate on the fact that the York Region Transit (the idiot express to Woodbridge) was not going to go on strike as planned and while there was a substantial possibility that I would miss my bus, I had a shiny brand new umbrella. Yes folks, this was my 5th umbrella this season. If there was a way to attach an umbrella to my jacket like mittens on children, I would be all over that like a pre-pubescent girl on a Jonas brother.

Now, a little back story to this umbrella…I figured with my history of leaving a trail of umbrellas everywhere I went (bus #77, Ikea, Finch subway bathroom..) I would buy a relatively cheaper umbrella and when I lost this one (which is quite a realistic possibility), I’ll just go back to the same Chinese dollar store and buy another $4.00 umbrella. No jokes. $3.99. Am I good or what!

So anyway, here I am, feeling 5 degrees warmer than usual, hastily walking to my bus stop, trying to balance my purse, trying to a find a song I like on my iPod and trying to open this four dollar umbrella. Well, my purse finally settled on my shoulder and the iPod finally settled on Sting but the umbrella refused to open. There was no convenient button to press and trying to push it open was futile. My straightened hair fell flat and Sting changed to Matchbox 20. By the love of God, the umbrella finally opened. I know this because I distinctly remember muttering…”oh for the love of God”.

I have to say…even though this lunatic umbrella wouldn’t open, it was a strong little sucker. It stood sturdy in the wind and refused to twist inside out. I’m proud to say that I was the only one on Finch Avenue this morning that didn’t look like that idiotic umbrella ninja trying to get it back the right way. I decided to name it Thor. And what’s more, I knew the TTC gods were also smiling down on me today because a bus pulled into the stop just as I got there. I happily pulled out my bus pass and tried to close up Thor before getting on.

If you have made it this far in this endless-of-days rant and have actually been paying attention, then what happens next will come as no surprise to you. Thor absolutely REFUSED to close. I flashed my pass at the driver and walked in with an open wet umbrella. The next 4 and a half minutes were spent in a frustrated frenzy of trying to balance myself on a moving TTC bus (which most of you know is a feat in and of itself), trying to keep my purse from sliding down and trying my hardest to close an umbrella in front of a bus load of people. 

After I had managed to finally fold up Thor, my next worry was whether or not I would make it to my connecting bus. My connecting bus was in 20 minutes. On a really great day of public transit, I would be able to get there in 15 minutes. Due to my luck with the quick bus this morning, I had reason to hope. But when we got EVERY SINGLE red light on the way, the hope began to fade. But I still prayed. I prayed so hard I tell you. I prayed that I would reach there on time. I prayed even knowing it was not really possible, unless we had no more red lights and the bus wouldn’t have to make anymore stops on the way.

And would you believe it…I reached the stop of my connecting bus 3 minutes early. Jesus was definitely smiling. I was a little surprised though that there was no bus. And then I found out why. I had made it in time. But apparently as of this morning, all the York Regional Transit bus schedules changed without any prior notice. 

I couldn’t help laughing at the irony that I while I had thought I was three minutes early, I had actually missed my bus by three minutes. 

Once again, the loony town transit had failed me and thousands of other people this morning. But Thor saved the day because while all else might have failed…but I was still dry. Eventually, I  got on another bus to Woodbridge and then Thor and I took the 25 minute walk to work together hand in handle.

Water-cooler gossip

 Conversation at work between physiotherapist and patient:

(might be slightly paraphrased)

Physiotherapist: So where do you feel pain mostly?

Patient: In my back.

Physiotherapist: Okay. Are there any activities that aggravate this pain in your back.

Patient: Yes, sex.

Physiotherapist: Sex? You hurt your back having sex?

Patient: No my back hurts when I have sex. Especially in the missionary position. (insert conversation about sex positions).  What do you suggest I do?

Physiotherapist: Well…umm..I don’t know. I suppose you could try going on top.

Patient: No, I mean about my back.