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?

Murphy’s Laws for the 20-something single girl

Murphy was my kind of man. The only reason I’ve never been an over-optimistic fool who always sees rainbows in the black clouds of shiteous life events is because I’ve been too busy earning my diploma from Murphy’s Law School of Realists.  When I graduated from my actual University, I should have been given a bottle of cheap wine and the words ‘Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong’ embossed on my degree.

While some people think I’m a pessimistic Negative Nancy, drinking a half-empty glass of grump juice alone in my basement, I’m really just one of those  delightful bitches in your friend circle who, with very good intentions, bursts your every sugar-coated bubble of unrealistic and/or senseless fantasies by (often times) very untacfully telling you the cold truth. Especially if you’re a Scientologist who can’t handle the truth. (Sorry, I’m quite unable to string along the words “untactful”, “senseless” and “Scientologist” without hurling in a Tom Cruise reference)

Anyway.

This where Murphy comes in. Nobody needs a Killjoy Karen crushing every optimistic pipe dream of striking it rich by baking marijuana biscuits (although Aunt Mary-Juanita’s Ginger Snaps sound like they could hit spots you never dreamed you had). But everybody does need a health dose of reality once in a while to keep themselves from the bad stuffs of life: broken hearts, eviction notices, divorce papers, jail, a series of punches in the face, gonorrhea….the list of what could go wrong is endless.

 And so, I have complied a Murphy’s Law-inspired list of the truths of the 20-something single life with a healthy dose of humor. At the ripe old age of 25, I’ve learnt that the only way to get through single life is by lots of humor. Because let’s face it, when you get married, the only way you’ll be able to get through that is by lots of compromise and Valium (in that order).

In no particular order of importance:

1. Friends come and go, but dumbasses accumulate. The word dumbass is an umbrella term for stalkers, freaks, unsavory suitors, unhygienic clients, lazy Louises/Larrys, people with poor grammar and the man sitting next to you on the subway who smells like cigarettes and urine.

2. The degree of complications of a clogged toilet is directly proportional to how attractive the plumber will be when he comes in and asks you to explain in detail what happened. Karen’s Tear-free Guide to Unclogging a Toilet has some single girl tips to deal with this shitty situation, should you find yourself stuck in it.

3. The grocery line is full of coupon-holding senior citizens when the urge to pee is the most.

4. Buying an incredible looking purse at an incredible price will only make you take more notice of other girl’s purses and wonder how much they paid for it, where they got it and if it comes in teal blue.

5. The chance you being attracted to a guy at a bar is directly proportional to the chance of him having a girlfriend, a boyfriend or a very contagious terminal illness.

6. When grocery shopping for the single girl, the ingredient you need the least of will only come in very large quantities.

7. Beauty is only skin deep; overnight makeup goes deeper.

8.  You will remember that you forgot your bus pass at home just as the bus pulls up at the stop.

9. The single girl’s phone should only have 3 key features: the ability to call, text and split a restaurant bill with tax and tip among 7 people.

10. The subway train running in the opposite direction always comes first.

I wish I could come up with Murphy’s Law for the single guy, for the mid-life crisis stricken Walmart manager, for the cookie baking soccer mom and the parent-hating emo teenager. Alas, according to what I have learnt from blogging, one must write what they know. But I’m sure that from whatever walk of life you come from, Murphy would have had something to say about it.

So let’s get real and humorously dig out that annoying crap that life hands us and laugh about the futility of fighting it. Let’s accept it for what it is, embrace the nonsense and not just dismiss its existence in the name of optimism. As Murphy would say: Smile!…for tomorrow will be worse.

I have finally met my Prince Charming

And in this day and age, it came in the form of nothing other than a Facebook creeper friend request. I have no idea who this kook is but he also attached a special message making his case as to why he’s such a stellar human being.

This is the actual text of his message. None of it has been altered in any way…save for my thought process in italic green. In fact, I had to read it several times before my brain could reason with itself as to what the appropriate reaction should be for each line. Yes. EACH LINE is poetry:

_______________________

“my name is Buttmunch (name’s changed to protect the identity of this fine specimen), im 25, and I think your hot

with this been said, i think im very resposnible and I insist for people who are associated to me to be the same

I like having maximum fun, however, intergrated with a intersection point of resposiblity (someone please tell me what exactly is intersecting here. Also, while you’re at it, please console me on the fact that I have finally met someone who likes to have maximum fun and is “resposnible” and yet is not taking “resposiblity” for horrid spelling)

like a graph, only smarter, and not as sexy (what?)

I am very sexy man (but not as sexy as a graph), and i enjoy to read alot, and I enjoy vocabulary (noooo, really?) , im excellent at music, and writting (You could have fooled me, Hemingway), but i suck at drawing, maybe you can teach me some teachniques, I learned a few inmy history book from western civilizations such as contra posto and ciaro sccurro, all fashioned int he doric roman period and revived in the rennesance lolololol YOU WILL TEACH ME OR BE JETTSONED DISCARDED (sweet fancy Moses……WHAT THE HELL IS THIS GHASTLY GIBBERISH????)

And this painful email diarrhea doesn’t end there. It goes on…

Im a huge arrogant bastard(TAKE ME NOW.) some women come to find me wing (wing? what?), the most seccure
If you like having fun and being intelectual please e-mail me, i think your photos are radiant (photos?  how many photos can this lunatic see? *quickly checks facebook privacy settings in a panicked frenzy*)

If you want photo of me, i will e-mail them, but i assure you im as handsome as I am arrogant (SOLD!)”

_____________________________________

At first I didn’t know what to think when I read this. Maybe this was a joke? Maybe it wasn’t. My frame of mind was in a weird combination of shock and amusement. The shock and anger wore off but the amusement remained. Here was a guy who was two fries short of a Happy Meal and yet believed the sun shone out of his ass.

But then I thought to myself, he is very very sexy. (no photo, but I’ll take his word for it). Maybe not as sexy as a graph, but last time I tried to date a graph, it ended with me almost failing my Stats midterm so it’s probably just as well.

Maybe I had to break down my walls of spinsterhood and let in this Champion among men. I needed someone honest enough to realise his flaws (arrogant bastardhood, inability to draw) and his strong points (living in the intersection of ‘resposblity’, ‘wing and seccure’).

I tallied him up against my New and Improved Boyfriend Screening Process. And this folks is when I found a major flaw in my screening process.

I never factored in spelling. Because if I had, this imbecile would have been instantly disqualified. I can handle ‘arrogant bastard’ and to an extent even ‘smarter than a graph’ but I draw the line at inability to piss his own name in the snow.