No, you read that correctly. No Name Brands. The Brand.
So my obsession with all things Twitter continues with @nonamebrands.
I love them!
For those who don’t know, No Name Brands is a line of generic grocery items owned by the Loblaw Company in Canada. They’re sold in a bunch of stores around the country, the nearest one to me being Real Canadian Superstore.
They have quite distinctive packaging: black font on yellow background, and have very very generic product names.
BUT, their Twitter account is where they really shine. Here are some of my favorite Tweets of theirs for you to enjoy!
And of course, they’ve been posting helpful tweets such as:
They also live-Tweeted the Emmys and Oscars!! WHICH. WAS. AMAZING. Here’s a taster, read from bottom to top. Head to their Twitter for more!
Sometime last year, I became obsessed with the Lawrence PD Twitter account. Someone in my feed reposted something of theirs and in typical fashion on a 1 hour bus ride, I went down a rabbit hole of reading ALL. THEIR. TWEETS.
Things I know about them:
They have two dogs: Cheeseburger….
Cheeseburger is more popular though. It causes….problems….
They encourage people not to crime.
And encourage people to help them solve crimes – both were found. #yaytwitter
They also give helpful life tips:
Here are some more of my favorites:
This same Tweet-a-long went a little off topic for a bit:
Officer Inman’s mom also made a appearance and later cupcakes did indeed arrive at the station!
If you want more, I highly recommend this thread:
Thanks Lawrence PD, for both keeping the residences of Lawrence safe and everyone else amusing.
Last week, I had the opportunity to take part in a trial of some new virtual reality software being created by a company called Hone, here in Calgary.
Hone uses virtual reality and augmented reality to help train people in how to deal with high-risk, high-stress environments. Using a combination of psychology and technology, Hone hopes to have a positive influence on how people approach stress management in the future.
It was through my work – which has nothing to do with VR – that I ended up in a boardroom at 8:25am on a Friday morning pondering what exactly I had signed up for.
Back in December, Hone came in and had ten of our staff members take part in round one of testing. One of those staff members was my boss. I was highly interested in what was happening and mentioned that I would like to be considered if they ever come back. My boss, true to her word, volunteered me and BOOM, I was in.
I was super excited. I’d never experienced virtual reality before. It looked awesome! I knew nothing about it or about VR in general or Hone or what time it was at or how long it would take or what I would need.
So I blocked off the whole day and began hoping it was a game.
It was not a game.
The session was called Applied Stress Management. This is a topic I am highly interested in. I’m apparently a super stressed individual however I don’t always realize it. The first person to point this out to me was my dentist after I cracked and/or broke several teeth though clenching in my sleep – not even kidding – …and then a TMJ specialist who took all of five minutes to diagnose me with TMJ. What a waste of an afternoon off work.
However, this was back in Jan 2018, 18 months after my mother had died and right amid the three months where we had bought a house, got a puppy that seemed allergic to sleep, I changed jobs, it was winter and life was a sleepless, -30 degree, I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing jumble.
Things being better now, I was curious to what my stress levels would be in an unknown situation.
The main thing I was hoping to get out of the session was to learn techniques to stop myself from freaking out during my biggest fear: driving.
I hate driving. I have always hated driving. When I first learned how to drive in Ireland, I got stuck on a roundabout because I refused to leave it. Another time, I created a traffic jam on the street, panicked, stalled the (manual) car too much and had to get out – in the MIDDLE OF THE TRAFFIC JAM I CAUSED – to let my mother drive.
Here in Calgary, I relearned how to drive 4 years ago, got my license and then drove 1-2 times a year after that. Usually to the airport or the mechanics and back. Or sometimes just back. Why drive there when the person I’m dropping off can do that?!
Just thinking about makes me panic. When I sit in the driver’s seat I immediately get all hot and flustered. I sweat a lot. If I have to drive somewhere, I used to have to bring a change of cardigan or shirt….Too much information? Incidentally, after 20+ years, I finally found a deodorant that works for me! No Pong (bicarb free version) – All natural, comes in a cute little pot that sometimes annoyingly difficult to open when it’s 6:30am, not an ad, I just really love it! It doesn’t help with stress but it does help my clothing. #thelittlethings
So, I go into this session thinking this can maybe help with my fear. Or at least help me not spend an entire day panicking about having to drive somewhere when I know I have to drive somewhere.
First up was a presentation by Alex Jackson. And let me tell you, Alex is awesome. A very calming individual. Bit like a living Ted Talk. There were graphs and things to look at and none of it was confusing. Alex’s presentation was informative, engaging and slightly terrifying when he described what we would be doing.
We would be donning our super awesome VR googles and some other techy things that monitor skin and heart rate.
Not so bad.
Then we would be getting into a virtual reality elevator which opens onto a rooftop.
So far so good.
Then we would be walking along a plank 80 stories above the ground to get a piece of cake and bring it back into the elevator.
Cool, cool, cool.
I should mention in addition to the virtual cake there was also real cake available baked by Alex’s sister. She felt bad that Alex was potentially going to traumatize us all by making us walk a plank to get virtual cake while there was no real cake there to sooth us.
No, I’m serious.
Suggestion for Hone: Kittens. I woulda bounced along that plank if there were kittens available to play with. #justsayin
So here I am, standing in a small room with Alex, Phil – also from Hone who I’d just met – and two other guys at computer monitors whose names I didn’t get. Alex is explaining to me how it’s going to work.
In front of me, a guy is setting up a real wooden plank on the carpet. This thing is about 2-3 inches from the ground maybe. I’m looking at it and looking at Alex thinking I can totally walk along this. My only fear was twisting an ankle in my heels cos I 100% ignored the ‘wear tennis shoes’ part of the email.
Alex has me clip a small sensor to my ear and puts little cotton and Velcro finger sensor thingys on the first two fingers on my left hand.
He then lowers the goggles on to my face and HOLY SH*T.
I was transported to a busy city street. I was opposite a park. There was a butterfly. I was fascinated by the butterfly. It seemed so real. I almost wanted to touch it.
It sounded real. I could hear people and traffic and nature.
I immediately felt hot and flustered and I hadn’t even done anything yet!
I started looking around and completely missed some of my instructions.
I get into the elevator behind me, press a button and wait. The elevator goes up. I can see a gap in the door that shows we are moving up but I don’t focus on it. Instead I look around the elevator. There’s a small warning sign, some buttons for other floors and no mirror. I am listening to the elevator music. It’s quite soothing and not so bad, I can do this, this is….
…the doors open.
‘Ou wind…’ I say out loud. I didn’t actually realize I’d said this aloud until Phil told me later.
It legitimately looked like I was 80 stories up. I was suddenly terrified. And I’m not scared of heights!
What am I doing? The cake. Right.
Where’s the cake? Oh…there. Right in front of me. At the end of the plank.
I walk forward a little, hit the real plank and almost trip.
As I take a step up onto the real plank, VR me steps onto the VR plank. The calibration was just the slightest bit off so I was half on the VR plank, half on nothing on my VR screen. It was surreal.
The real plank wobbles.
I shuffle along the plank. Shuuuuuufffle. Slowly. Slooooowly. When I got as close as I was willing to get to the cake I waved the wand I was given. Nothing happened. I’d have to get closer.
Then I heard ‘Push the trigger button’….and stopped shuffling. I bent down, waved the wand dramatically in the cake’s general direction, grabbed the cake, shuffled backwards and back into the elevator.
Let’s remember, I am still in a carpeted boardroom in an auditorium in my work building on a plank two inches off the ground.
It felt like that scene in Ant Man where this hugely dramatic thing is happening on screen and then we pan out and it’s just a little train going around.
Alex asks if I want to try again but this time ignore the cake and jump off the plank.
Do. I. Want. To…What?
Why would I want to do that?
How would I…? No. No I do not.
Of course, I said yes because I was already here and I’d gotten the cake and…ugh, why not?
Back into the elevator I go. Up to the roof I go. The music drowns out Alex’s instructions so I hear nothing until I reach the top. I look through the gap in the elevator this time. I ask what happens when I jump. Do I land? #validquestion
No. I don’t land. It all goes white and angelic music plays. I burst into laughter. I start feeling better. Alex talks me through breathing and visualising my goal: Jumping off the plank.
Why couldn’t there be kittens?
I stepped out onto the plank. It was re-calibrated this time and was in line with me.
IT. WAS. SO. REAL.
I was nervous. This was a fear that I didn’t think I needed to overcome! But alas, there I was, knowing logically where I was, that this wasn’t real, I was just stepping onto carpet not an 80 story drop.
I scrunched up into defensive mode, the clenched hands against my chest move I do when someone startles me or that time I watched IT, the new one. Still not sure about that movie. I mean, did I like it enough to watch the sequel? It’s hard to tell.
Back to the plank.
It’s one step.
Just a step. Onto carpet. Not off a building.
I ask if I have to keep my eyes open as I fall.
OK. I can do this. I nervously giggle at the absurdity of me being scared by this. Yet I STILL DIDN’T MOVE.
Alex explained where he was in the room and I instinctually prepared to jump/step off towards his voice.
I am not doing it. Or am I doing it? Should I do it? I can’t be scared by this. It’s not real. It feels real. But it’s not real. I should just jump. Should I jump? I mean, what if…f*ck it.
I stepped off.
My foot hit the not-plushy-cos-it’s-a-boardroom carpet while my VR self plummeted 80 stories to the white screen and angelic music. I watched the whole time. It was freaky, exhilarating and then very funny. The angelic music. It was just such an absurd ending.
Then I respawned.
I was on the ground. I took off the googles.
Next up was a check on my stress levels on a readout.
As you can see, I was slightly freaked out the entire way through it would seem, peaking at several specific points:
When I put the headset on
When I was looking through the elevator crack
When I exited the elevator
While making decisions on what to do
RIGHT before I jumped (that one was obvious)
Overall, it was a lot of fun and I would definitely do it again without question. I’m already wondering if they plan to come back for a third round of needing volunteers.
I even recommended to The Canadian One that he should try it as – even though I did get him up into a hot air balloon last summer – he is terrified of heights and this may help him.
In terms of driving, I still haven’t gotten back behind the wheel but it’s winter and snow driving is not the time to overcome that fear. It seems more like a summer fear-busting task, no?
Incidentally, during the debrief we were asked if we think anything else would motivate us more than cake.
I immediately thought of kittens however opted not to suggest that as others seems happy to walk a plank for cake.
Then the planner in me gets involved and it’s like, where would you get the kittens? You’d need litter boxes. And food. And someone could be allergic. And would you rent them or adopt kittens for this task? And how many kittens? And would the owners of the boardroom you are renting allow animals? And what if someone got scratched? Would it be an OH&S problem? There’d be reports and paperwork. It would be a whole thing.
It wouldn’t work.
Or would it?
What do you guys think?
Would you walk a plank 80 stories up for cake or kittens?
I hope you remember me. You were my foster mom a year ago. In November 2017, I, along with 47 of my closest friends, were rescued from up north of Alberta in High Level. I was 5 months old. I was listed as a solo orphan on my intake form. There was a CTV newscast about us. I’m featured at 1:42.
I just want you to know, I’m doing great. You chose me a great family and a year later I’ve come a long way from being Bree – AARCS Adoptable Puppy No. A37174273.
Coming to live here was a whirlwind. While I was at your house learning things like how to sit and how to pee outside, my mommy and daddy had just bought their first home and were on the hunt for a puppy to add to their growing brood of three cats. Having gotten two cats from AARCS already, they naturally turned to AARCS for their canine companion. Originally they chose a different dog and applied for him but were told they needed to pick a back-up dog in case the first didn’t work out. On a whim, they picked me as mommy thought I looked like an Andrex puppy she saw on TV growing up. There was one problem though, I had another application pending. They figured they weren’t getting me, I was adorable, I was bound to be scooped up at my first meet-n-greet.
Then an email came. They were told ‘that other dog’ wasn’t suitable – it has CH like my sister Pickles and needed a home with another dog. But there was good news, I was available!
On December 7th 2017, they huddled in the car and had a phone interview outside mommy’s work Christmas party. The following day they had a successful first meet and greet at your house. On the drive over, daddy had to coach mommy about being so near a dog. She was afraid of dogs. I made a beeline for her as soon as she walked in. She sat on the floor with me. She petted me and played with my ears. She kept apologizing to you for getting glitter on your floor. It was from her Christmas party the night before.
They went home and spent the entire night unpacking boxes. They were getting the house ready for the second meet and greet at their home the next morning. They hung pictures. Set up furniture. Displayed Christmas ornaments. They went to bed a few hours before we arrived.
We came over and hung out for a bit. You commented on how the house looked great! You couldn’t believe they’d just bought the house 15 days previously. Mommy smiled like it had looked this great for the past 15 days and hoped I wouldn’t run into down the basement aka box city. Instead, I fell asleep on the floor. You’d kept me up late the night before, you’d had friends over. You asked if they wanted to come pick me up later that day and they both jumped at the chance. The adoption was going through. Mommy had some paperwork to fill in. While you left with me, mommy and daddy rushed out and bought every dog item at Walmart they could find including my new best friend, Foxy!
That afternoon, I moved in.
And thus began my mission to befriend my new family: mommy, daddy, and my cat brother and sisters, Louie, Pickles and Purrkins.
I didn’t like the heat in the house at the start. Having lived outside a lot of my life, I found it hard to adjust to a soft bed and a warm house so I would spend a lot of time on the floor in front of an air purifier mommy bought me that blasted cold air. It was heaven.
But I soon got used to it and began to try to take over the couches and beds and any soft area I could find.
We went for walks and I loved the outside. I struggled on the leash (and still do) but I love the snow so I got a loooooong leash so I could practice recall and diving head first into snow piles.
I enrolled in puppy school where I met one of my fellow puppies from my rescue. Together we learned fun things like walking nicely, listening and THERE WERE TREATS!! If you did exactly or almost exactly or made a valid attempt to do what the teacher wanted, YOU. GOT. CHEESE…..CHEESE!!!
I almost failed because I smiled too much, rolled around too much, tried to befriend all the humans and was labelled ‘a little ditzy’ but eventually I graduated puppy school!
And THEN I joined daycare and became queen of the castle! The daycare people love me and I love being at day care. It’s my favourite day of the week! I even stayed there for three nights when mommy and daddy got stuck in a snow storm and the highway shut down. They couldn’t come get me and daycare took such good care of me. I’m there in the middle, surveying my realm.
Back at home, my mission to befriend my siblings was going…well…ish….I quickly won over one of my sisters, Purrkins. She had grown up with a family dog but was surrendered to AARCS when she and her four kittens were viscously attacked by the same family dog. They ended up with mommy and daddy as a foster group but mommy refused to give Purrkins back! Luckily, Purrkins holds no ill-will towards dogs and loves me. We’re best friends.
I struggled a little with my other sister…and my brother just never comes near me…he’s not featured in this letter…
Then the BEST THING EVER HAPPENED! Mommy signed up to Barkbox and I had new toys arrive in the mail EVERY MONTH. I loved one of my toys, a pigeon I named Pidgy, soooooo much. I took him outside to pee. I napped with him. I brought him all around the house. I showed him my kennel and my bed and where the water dish is. I let him drink water from the dish and nap in my bed when I wasn’t using it. In fact, when Barkbox got wind of how much I loved him, they drew a picture of me with him and sent me a card!
Purrkins (sorry Purrkins….)
I also guard the house. While mommy and daddy watch TV, sleep, or make food I protect us from cars, humans, bunnies, cats, humans with boxes, leaves, birds, smaller humans, other puppies, even smaller humans and halloween lawn decorations. Those things will kill you.
I save us each and every day, Shauna.
EACH AND EVERY DAY.
Actually, that’s a lie…when they make food, Purrkins, Pickles and I stand awkwardly close to mommy get a taster of some early dinner…It only sometimes works but that just means we need to try harder.
The entire AARCS posse!
With mommy and daddy, we celebrate all the holidays! I’d never celebrated a holiday before so I wasn’t sure what was required. There was Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter! There are hats and photos and dinners and usually chicken and treats and GIFTS!!! DID YOU KNOW ABOUT GIFTS?? You just wait and wait and it’s like normal day and then a hat gets put on your head and you sit nicely and a picture is taken and then there’s cheese and THEN THERE ARE GIFTS!!
OMG OMG OMG AND SHAUNA, GUESS WHAT?!! THEN CAME MY BIRTHDAY!!!
AND I TURNED ONE!
And a hat. Every holiday has a hat. Humans…I dunno.
In the summer, I learned fetch…kinda…sorta….a little….I mean…I went after the stick, that counts, right?!
Also this year, I ran two marathons! TWO!!! One to raise money for the Calgary Humane Society and one for AARCS!
AND I GOT A MEDAL!!
I look sad but that’s my staring at cheese face. I take cheese very seriously. (I’m also dressed as a unicorn – mommy, daddy, Pickles and I were all unicorns for Halloween!)
I also rode the bus to a party!!
The party was at a bar. I was allowed in. I tried to make friends with EVERY HUMAN I SAW!
It was so much fun. I wriggled out of my collar to mingle but mommy and daddy ran after me after another human stopped me.
At the moment, my favourite things are cheese, the dog park, cheese, making new friends, the snow, cheese, did I mention cheese?
Socky. My sock mommy’s friend gifted me. It’s a real sock. I love him.
Foxy left. He got a hole and then he got fixed and then he got another hole and then he went away. I patiently await his return. Any day now, he’ll be back and threaten Purrkins’ spot in the Daisy’s Top Three Best Friends List.
This fall, I’ve been working on getting over my fear of water….At first I would jump over puddles and now look at me! I still won’t go into the river but I’m working my way up to it.
Also, Shauna, have you ever seen a duck? They are like birds that SWIM! LOOK AT THOSE DUCKS!! DO YOU SEE THOSE DUCKS? THEY’RE DUCKS!
In the year I’ve lived here I’ve done a lot. I’ve achieved a lot. I’ve eaten many questionable things where mommy was 100% positive I would die. An entire bag of compost. That extension cord. That other cord. All those tissues. Several receipts. Oh oh, that roll of duct tape. She 100% thought I would die from that.
I was on medication to stop me eating my poop for a while.
I also threw up worms on the bed in the middle of the night. They wriggled around on the duvet. Neither mommy nor daddy could eat spaghetti for weeks.
But mostly Shauna, I am writing this to let you know I am happy. I am healthy. I am loved.
And on the one year anniversary of my adoption, I wanted to say thank you to you and AARCS.
I’ve written about my love of smoothies previously. I have two a day. One at 6:30am before I get on the bus to work and one at 4pm before I get on the bus home. I find they are filling but don’t make me feel stuffed. They’re the perfect light breakfast for me as eating a full breakfast and going on a 1hr bumpy bus ride don’t really mix all that well. The afternoon one keeps me sated enough to last from afternoon snack to dinnertime. And again, no throwing up on a bumpy bus ride home. #win
The addition of tea came about because in the mornings I liked to have a cup of tea and a glass of water and a morning smoothie. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever woken up at 5:20am and tried to stuff that much liquid into your body and then jump on a bus but…let’s just say it works out well for no one.
It’s been a year of these smoothies and I looooove them. I have the same thing, every morning. I thought I would get bored but I didn’t. It became a habit. The day we ran out of bananas one Friday and I couldn’t make my smoothies, I didn’t know what to do. Do I just drink the tea? Do I put the tea with the strawberries? Am I going to miss my bus? I’m going to miss my bus. I gotta go.
30 minutes into my bus ride, I was tired, hot, starving and had a migraine.
Now we buy 15+ bananas a week. 2 a day for me. 1 a day for The Canadian One. #potassiumoverload
Oh except when I have my period, I crave vodka and bananas….and only one of those I can consume at work.
I have to eat the third banana at home.
I’ve lovingly named these Smoo-Teas…get it? Cos it’s a smoothie AND a tea….Nevermind.
Smoo-Tea for One
(Double ingredients for 2…and so on…#math)
Black or Green Tea cooled. I usually brew mine in the evening and cool it overnight in the fridge. I use Barry’s Original Blend Irish Tea my brother sends me in the mail. I’ve also used orange pekoe tea (Tetley) and green tea.
1/2 cup of mixed berries (I buy frozen berries, I’m lazy)
An approximate shot glass of Orange Juice
I also add a shot of Kombucha when I have some, chia seeds when I remember or GF oat flour when I have some lying around after a cooking session
Throw everything in a blender.
OR put into mason jar, bring to work, consume at your leisure.
Do you say lee-jure or leh-jure? Genuine question. It’s like my continuing Pap-er-us v Pap-i-rus debate. (Card-shop people will get that!) Like….WHICH IS IT?!!
Also, if anyone is curious about the Kombucha I use when I remember to buy some, I like this one. I’m going through their cocktail flavours since my boss got one free at an event and, by poxy, it became mine! (THAT’S MY TREE IN THE BACKGROUND!!! I OWN A TREE!!!)
I have been an admin assistant for almost 3 years. 2.5 years with one company and 3 months with this new company. I adoooore my new company and my boss. Also, math is not my strongest asset. Here are some things I happened upon I could not relate to more in my old job…and one I could not relate to more in my new one! Now you’re wondering when Administrative Professionals’ Day is, aren’t you? It’s not today, don’t worry. Nor was it yesterday. But good news! You still have time to buy a gift! A whole 24 hours in fact! Post-its are nice. Or vodka. Only those two will be accepted as gifts. Failing that, not walking to my desk to tell me you sent me an email asking me to print a piece of paper to the printer you walked past on your way to my desk would be nice. Unrelated: regarding one of the posts above, I was asked to plan my own goodbye party and book the restaurant. #truestory Because today was password reset day and within an hour I was swearing at my computer. I have never related to something more. Never. Ever. And finally, this: Not office related but….I just couldn’t not post it! That face you just made reading that, that confused face, I would like free rein to make that face at people just once a day. Maybe twice. Three tops! Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day – It’s April 25th! 🙂
Reposted: Originally published 06/15/2012 (my puppy’s birthday!)
Quote Friday: A round-up of the best quotes from my elementary school students in South Korea this week!
First up, a non-school quote:
Girl at party last weekend: ‘Where are you from?’
Girl: ‘Oh, Ireland, Texas?’
Me: ‘No, Ireland the country.’
Girl: ‘You must think I’m really stupid.’
Me: ‘Actually, I’ve been asked that exact question before.’
In the middle of repeating vocabulary:
Kid: ‘Teacher, I’m hungry.’
Me: ‘That’s nice. I don’t care.’
Kid: ‘You don’t have food??’
Me: ‘I’m not giving you food!’
Suddenly, a piece of candy hits him on the side of the head. We all turn to see one little boy has throw a candy at him. The kid picks it up and throws it back at kid 2. I take it away from them both and put it on my desk.
Kid 2 has a funny look on his face. I look at him, quizzically. He lifts his hand to reveal a second candy, smiles and then bursts out laughing.
Me: ‘What’s skipping?”
Entire class, breaking into The Smurfs theme song: ‘La la la la la la la la la la la!!’
Me: ‘What? That’s The Smurfs! Skipping is this.’
I skip across the classroom.
Kid: ‘Yes, you look like a Smurf.’
Me: ‘Did you just call me a Smurf?’
Kid: ‘Yes, look.’
He gets up and skips across the classroom just like I did.
Me: ‘What does your mommy like?’ (options on the page include a variation of fruits and vegetables)
Kid: ‘My mom likes money.’
Kid 2: ‘My mom doesn’t like dad.’
Two boys are hitting each other with pencils.
Me: “What are you doing?!’
Kid: ‘We’re swordfighting!!’
There is paper ALL over my floor.
Me: “What the hell is all this on my floor?!!’
Kid 1: ‘Oh my God, you said a bad word!!’
Me: ‘No, I didn’t.’
Kid 1: ‘Yes, you did! You said ‘what the hell’!’
Me: ‘No, I didn’t!!’
Kid 1: ‘I hear you!!!’
Kid 2: ‘The fan and the paper and whoooosh and paper on floor.’
Kid 1: ‘YOU SAID A BAD WORD!!’
From The Canadian One and his Kindergarten students:
I was teaching my students can and will.
One wrote ‘I can ride a bike’ and then, ‘Soon I will smoke.’
That’s a good goal!
While I’m checking off a name, a kid grabs a marker and proceeds to write on the board. She’s written the first letter, a ‘C’, when I grab her hand.
The kid looks down to see she’s holding a permanent marker.
Kid: ‘Oh no!!’
Me: ‘Oh my God!’
Kid: ‘Wait, I can fix.’
The kid grabs a normal board marker, colors in the ‘C’ and erases the whole thing off the board. It’s spotless and no trace is left.
Me: ‘Wow, that’s magic!!’
Kid 2: ‘It’s no magic, it’s SCIENCE!!’ (shaking her head at me!)
A kid is looking under the desk and making a disgusted face. She puts up her hand.
Kid: ‘Teacher, come here. Look.’ (pointing under the desk)
I look at her skeptically.
Kid: ‘It’s ok. No bug.’
A kid speaks Korean in my class several times so as punishment I make her stand up with one hand on her head and the other over her mouth. She’s wearing a green sweater. Her friend next to her bursts into laughter.
One can never have too many honey recipes. Although, if anyone has any hints on how to stop my honey hardening, requiring a soak in hot water and then…well, it explodes. Ugh. Honey on the floor. Why? (Bonus points for the awesome URL with this one! ‘those donuts tho’!)
*Rabbit Hole Alert* Ok, so this I became every so slightly obsessed with one day and wasted a lot of data on my phone watching You Tube videos of magical magnetic marbles doing their own version of Rube Goldberg Machines.
*This was written 6 years ago, a year before I left Korea for Canada*
I get asked this question a lot and so here…here is how I ended up in Korea:
Recently, I called a lawyer.
A lawyer in Canada, no less. This lawyer I called was very polite and helpful, apparently it’s the Maple Leaf disposition. He asked how I found out about his company as I was calling all the way from South Korea (‘South Korea, wow!’ ‘Yeah, I get that a lot when I call overseas from here.’). I explained I googled what I was looking for and clicked the first one I found with a Facebook page. Although it is also worth noting I was drinking a vodka and orange in an Irish bar on a school night while calling him….
This morning, I had a visa medical exam. A pretty standard test. One I’ve had a few times for my Korean visa so I knew the drill. Blood, chest x-ray, pee in paper cup, see doctor, deny knowing what an illegal drug is, the usual. On one of the stack of forms I had to fill in to give permission for them to view my medical records, test me for a wide varity of diseases, declare I wasn’t lying in any of my statements, give them custody of my first-born and the rights to name him Bob (one those is not true), it asked for my future occupation in my intended country of residence. Pointing out I wasn’t moving for another 12 months and hadn’t planned that yet, I was told to put ‘housewife’.
And so I did.
I laughed and shook my head and wrote the word on the page.
In a mere 48 hours, I’d called a lawyer, had a visa medical and declared myself a future housewife.
My entire life I’ve just kinda fallen into thing. Not really making conscious life decisions. I’ve just been presented with an opportunity and going with it, confident in the knowledge that it’ll all be fine. It’s no coincidence one of my favourite phrases is ‘Let’s see how this all plays out, shall we?’
I stumbled into going to university in England. I was unsure about what I wanted to do with my life and unwilling to choose computing suggested by one career counsellor and to ‘give up the idea of directing a movie because my teeth were not straight enough. So when I talk or give direction people will not understand me and HOW can I direct a movie if people can’t understand me’ (direct quote that will stay with me for life) by another career counsellor after I said I wanted to write movies.
To the UK I went, to study writing and film (a completely useless degree in hindsight). Unlike universities in the US where you can study many different things in the lead up to your eventual degree, in Ireland and the UK at 17 we have to choose our path and stick to it. Every course I took lead directly to the degree I applied for. I applied to ten universities, got into four, picked the one with the open day that was soon, flew over, looked around and signed up to attend in September.
Graduating at 20, I fell into working as a project supervisor at my previous job.
I was there when the previous project supervisor quit. That’s it. That’s all it took. I just happened to be there in the building. Later, when I moved into human resources, again, it was because I was there when the previous HR girl quit. For a while I was doing project supervising, HR, interviewing potential staff, running training seminars, doing wages (a terrifying month) and flying to Germany to brief new center managers. I took a two week holiday and went to Washington DC. It took three people to do my job while I was gone.
Having gone to Salzburg on a Sound of Music tour with my mother for her 50th birthday, I returned to my job bored and unhappy. I didn’t like it. It was depressing and I could do it drunk, hungover, half asleep, on the tail end of a bar hopping pub crawl (I kid you not!) and could coordinate client documents while talking on the phone, supervising staff and playing on the Internet all at the same time. The challenge was gone and thus I put in for a transfer. To London. My transfer approved, my contract drawn up and ready to be signed, apartment hunting was a go-go and I was packing my house up.
Six weeks later I was on a flight to Korea to start a new life.
It’s funny how these things just….happen.
So what happened?
Nothing at all.
Nothing major or dramatic or life changing. Nothing I can pinpoint on my life map and say ‘this was the event that caused it’. I just woke up one day and realised if I don’t leave now, now, this very second….if I don’t make the decision to leave when I get the chance, when my current contract is up, I’ll never leave. And then I’ll stay. I’ll stay here in a job I don’t like. In a country I really have no reason to be. With a car I can’t drive and a lethargic attitude towards work that ranks it just barely above ‘napping’. I’ll stay and be that person in the bar who stayed too long.
I needed a change. I needed to leave. And I needed to do it now while the idea was new and fresh and I was suddenly motivated. My contract at work was up for renewel. My current landlord was looking into selling off his house and thus, I’d have to move anyway. The stars were aligning and it was my shot!
A quick phone call later and i was offered a chance to either move to Korea the following month or Japan in 6 months. I choose Korea, because it was sooner and hanging around for 6 months would lead to a change of heart, second guessing and I have a short attention span. Left for 6 months to stew and think, I’d back out. I told my job. (‘I moving to Korea.’ ‘Korea…where’s that?’ ‘KOREA.’ ‘Ohhhhhh KOREA….I seeeeee.’) I sold everything that wouldn’t fit in my Opel Corsa on eBay and my mother drove me back to Dublin to await my Korean visa.
A few weeks later, visa and one way plane ticket in hand, large suitcase borrowed from my mother, and a world of opportunity ahead of me, I left on a plane to start anew. It would be a few weeks before I got around to reading the Lonely Planet guide I’d brought with me and a few more before I discovered what ‘Skype’ is…and I worked for eBay when they acquired Skype which made that so much worse.
Oh, how badly prepared I’d been when I arrived.
But alas how could I know that one decision, that decision to pack everything up and start again would change my life the way it did.
I took a shot.
And now, as I prepare for yet another country move, people keep asking if I’m scared, apprehensive, what if it all goes wrong, what if it doesn’t work out…etc.
To them I say, maybe it will. Maybe it will go wrong. Maybe it’ll be great. Maybe it’ll be the greatest decision I’ve ever made. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
I don’t want the ‘maybes’ to rule my life. For every ‘maybe yes’, there’s a ‘maybe no’. For every person that says ‘Maybe it’s a good idea’ there’s another saying ‘Maybe it’s a terrible idea. You should stay here’.
When I moved to England, people said I’d be back within a month. I said ‘Maybe.’ I returned 6 years later.
When I moved to Korea, people said, ‘Ohhh it’s so dangerous there! You won’t be safe!’. I said ‘Maybe.’ I’ve been here 3 years and 4 months. The most dangerous thing that has ever happened to me was almost being hit by a taxi cab when I walked out in front of it.
In less than a year, I move to Canada. People say it may not work out. That couples who meet in Korea and leave together don’t last. That we’ll regret it. That we won’t find jobs. That we’ll have no money. That it’s cold. That I’ll hate it. That it’s a risk.
To them, I say ‘Maybe.’
But for now, let’s just agree on one thing, let’s all sit back, relax and see how this all plays out, shall we?
(Oh and that’s The Canadian One with my Pingu the Penguin in his backpack in the pictures above on the day we moved me from my apartment into his!)
So remember a few months back I told you about how I was convinced my foo was trying to kill me and the doctors thought they were wrong but I was going back for a retest anyway…you know, because doctors like to make sure everything is cool?
They weren’t wrong.
Everything is not cool.
So now instead of being the friend who got the dreaded-bad-results-PAP only for it to turn out to be incorrect and perfectly fine, I’m the friend who had the dreaded-bad-results-PAP was told actually you’re fine and then told not quite and then…oh people, it’s a story.
The day after this post was published, I went back for my retest biopsy. Same routine. Vinegar on foo, sting sting sting because I shaved the night before – don’t do that – then snip snip snip, then wait wait wait. It was during this waiting period, I ended up at a walk-in clinic for an unrelated reason and SAW my results on the computer. It said HSIL and the word ‘sarcoma’…
I mentioned the results to the doctor. She turned and said ‘Oh, they are going to need to talk to you.’ – referring to the colposcopy clinic.
Now, if you ever have results you are unsure of and your walk-in doctor advises you to call your actual doctor, you should do that and not do what I did.
Which was Google it.
And then cry.
And drink vodka.
And cry some more.
There are no oat cookies in this story. Just vodka.
The biopsy was on November 8th and after what seemed like an entire lifetime – like we literally decided to buy a house, bought a house, went to Disneyland on vacation and then moved into said house by the time they called on November 30th. It was a weird month. After some minor chitchat about results, they quickly scheduled me for LEEP surgery a week later Dec 8th.
I get a pre-surgery call from the nurse to talk me through things.
Her: ‘And then they will inject you with numbing agent, just like at the dentist.”
Me: ‘That’s not where they inject me at the dentist….’
Her: ‘Do you have your pamphlet?’
Me: ‘The yellow pamphlet?’
Her: ‘Yeah! The yellow pamphlet.’
ME: ‘No…I lost the yellow pamphlet.’
My nurse was done with me before I even went to the hospital!
Skip forward to a week later, The Canadian One takes the day off work and we both head into the hospital for the ol’ LEEP. I get there, sign the consent forms, quickly decline The Canadian One viewing the surgery because, again, NO ONE needs to see their foo on the ‘big screen’, and I’m whisked into the room with the stirrups.
The nurse had shown me several pictures of what will happen – cartoon style. The last picture had the woman’s cervix looking completely normal.
Me: ‘Oh, it grows back? I didn’t know that. That’s cool.”
Her: ‘Oh, no. It doesn’t. That’s…just a picture.’
Me: ‘That’s misleading.’
Nurse: ‘You’re not the first person to say that….’
She hates me.
I get into my gown, my phone starts to ring, I accidentally answer it and then hang up. I found out later it was my family doctor trying to call another Jennifer and called me by accident. I shake like a leaf as I get up on the table and have some kinda grounding sticker stuck to my ass. Another nurse tries to talk to me. She’s all soothing and nice until….
Her: ‘You know sometimes, we work ourselves up and it’s really not that bad.’
Me: ‘Or you Google it.”
Her, dead serious: ‘Yeah, that was stupid.’
I laughed so hard I almost peed.
The doctor comes in, stirrups, vinegar, iodine, looks around inside the foo-dome and THEN TURNS the big screen towards me.
What are we…Why is…WOW, I missed a lot of areas when I shaved…is that…hmmm, so that’s what it looks like in there…that’s….why are we looking at this?
Doctor: ‘You see this area?’ – pointing at an area of my cervix…I assume. God, it was all so pink and…pink…but there was a largish area of white. I assume that’s the bit that’s actively trying to kill me.
Doctor: ‘It is too large to be removed. We need to refer you to the cancer ward for general anesthetic.’
Head. Desk. Now.
Turns out the area that was mistakenly diagnosed as bad then fine then bad now needed more extensive surgery than me being awake would allow.
Someone will call you in around 8-10 weeks to schedule the appointment, they said. If they don’t, call us back.
Although, having not had surgery, we decided to go Christmas shopping at the mall. As soon as we got there, I realized I would have rathered have the surgery.
So Christmas comes and goes. We got a puppy, I got a new job – a promotion, it’s awesome – and life kinda meanders along, me waiting for the phone, the 7 month old lab retriever thinking 2am on a work night is party time.
Smash cut to Monday of this week – today is Thursday for anyone reading this not on the day it’s published. I call the clinic to find out if there’s any updates on my surgery. I have a new job, I want to give plenty of notice that I will betaking a few days off. I call and leave a voicemail and they call me back.
And here’s where my full-on complaint to AHS kicks in. I spoke to the rudest woman I have ever spoken to in my life. She started off telling me she doesn’t know who I am despite me leaving my full name, spelling of my name and phone number and reason for calling on the voicemail – I explain again and she says ‘well, I don’t have your chart and I don’t know where it is’. I’ve been to this clinic 5 times for biopsies and once for an aborted LEEP, this clinic has a file on me. She said doesn’t know why I would call her, I should call my surgeon for my OR time. MY. SURGEON. Like…ugh. I explain I don’t have a surgeon – cos who does – and that her clinic was supposed to give me my OR date and if they didn’t I was to call in 8-10 weeks. It had been 10 weeks. She said I was a ‘non-priority’, she, again, ‘didn’t understand why I was even calling’ and that she thought ‘LEEP in the OR shouldn’t even be an option for people’. I explained it wasn’t really MY choice to have this done and I initially had been scheduled for being awake…you know, writing this is just making me mad again. Basically she didn’t have my chart, didn’t know who I was and made me sit on the phone and defend a diagnosis she didn’t agree with that a doctor at her clinic made. I cried after that phone call. It was awful.
She also spend a lot of time on the phone repeatedly asking why I was calling her. BECAUSE. YOUR. CLINIC. TOLD. ME. TO.
Also who chooses to have a LEEP?!
Like you know what would be fun to do today, a LEEP?! YES, OMG YAY, LET’S DO THAT.
I wrote a complaint to AHS because no adult should be made to feel bad about their diagnosis and for following a clinic’s instructions.
I await their response.
As it turns out, she didn’t have my chart because I was already transferred to the cancer centre so I called them instead. The nurse wasn’t available until Tuesday so I waited until the next day.
9am, she calls. I’m scheduled for the next day. Valentine’s day.
The. Very. Next. Day.
Yesterday, I had a LEEP, cone biopsy and LASER surgery in the OR.
With less than 24 hours notice.
No wait, that’s a lie, I had 26hrs and 20mins of notice. Which is fine, my work was cool about it and 26hrs is enough time to shave your legs but still…
It was all very simple. Check in. Meet some very nice nurses. Befriended the girl waiting next to me. Both wallow in the fact that it was 2:20pm and, having fasted since midnight, we were both starving. I was promised a sandwich after by my nurse.
I got into my gown and booties and was sent back out into the waiting area to The Canadian One. I ran back out to him: “LOOK AT MY BOOTIES!!!! Gimme your phone!!!” They had taken my phone from me.
Eventually, after 4 hours of waiting and convincing myself I was going to die from starvation – and messing up parking so we ended up paying $29 – I got called into the OR for my surgery. I chitchatted with the nurse about my puppy, she showed me pictures of her puppy and poof, I was in recovery.
I was dizzy and confused. It was like falling asleep during a movie and waking up during the end credits like…wait…what happened. I still don’t know what happened at the end of American Made. I should really just Google it.
I was soon offered my sandwich but couldn’t eat it as ya know, the gluten and dairy thing but the nurses found me an apple juice. After peeing, going through one and half baggies of liquid in my IV and then getting the IV out, I was free to go home.
Nurse: ‘How’s your pain?’
Me: ‘My hand hurts.’
Nurse: ‘That doesn’t count.’
Me: ‘Then it’s ok.’
Nurse: ‘Do you want a barf bag for the ride home?’
Me: ‘No. I am starving. I don’t think I’ll be throwing up.’
I made The Canadian One drive me straight to Five Guys from the hospital for an after-surgery burger in a lettuce wrap and fries. It was glorious. Then he picked up the puppy from daycare and we binge watched Shameless US for the night.
Six more months until my follow-up biopsy and the all-clear….
Back to #waiting for me.
Waiting and vodka.
Waiting and vodka and cramping.
Quick poll: It’s almost 3pm in the afternoon, can one sustain themselves post-surgery on gummy bears and vodka?
So I talk a lot about how I am convinced my foo is trying to kill me. Every month, my period rolls ’round and I tell this website, Facebook, Twitter, my friends, my cats, The Canadian One, anyone who’ll listen that I am convinced that my foo and all it’s connecting parts including but not limited to the main foo-dome (or uterus if you’re a doctor) is actively trying to kill me.
Sure, I dull it with heat pads and vodka and painkillers and, did I mention Vodka, but yet still, it downs me each month and costs me a valuable sick day I could be using as vacation time.
It tries to kill me. Snuff me out. Steal my energy and make me eat all the oat cookies.
THEN it makes me cry because there are no more oat cookies.
And then I feel sick because you’re not supposed to bake and eat 12 oat cookies in 30 minutes.
To sum up, I was/am/will forever be convinced my foo wants me dead.
So imagine my surprise when I found out that that might actually be true.
I’m not nuts.
It IS trying to kill me.
Ok, lemme back up.
So about 3 years ago, I had a serious of failed PAP tests – always a fun time – and I was sent off to the colposcopy clinic where I had a series of biopsies. These fun lil let’s-rinse-you-out-with-vinegar-and-cut-off-slivers-of-your-skin tests resulted in a ‘low grade changes’ result. Other than ‘You’re 100% healthy’, one would assume that’s the next best thing.
I was sent home and told to return in 6 months.
We vinegared up the foo and got to snipping. THIS time I remembered to take Motrin before the test so it went muuuuuch better than the first one. The results were the same as the first so I waited another 6 months.
Again, I returned. Motrined up. We biopsied. We got the same results. However as it was my third visit, I was offered the chance to watch the foo biopsy on the big screen.
I politely declined.
No one wants to see their foo magnified up on the big screen.
This time, since there were no changes in results from the first time, I was released back to my family doctor.
I was told I needed 3 more all-clear PAPs in 18 months to be considered fine.
Over the next year, I collected 2 fully fledged perfectly healthy PAP tests (and a yeast infection from some ear infection medicine because….ugh…life).
And then came the third.
‘You have HSIL. You need to return to colposcopy.’
Like…COME ON!! #soclose
I was told what this meant. There was a possibility of ‘pre-cancer’ and a LEEP. I would need time off work. I had a wedding coming up in the USA. This was seriously going to interfere with all this. I cried on the train and began to miss my sunglasses. My face seriously puffs up when I cry. I can’t watch puppy videos at work. Ever.
Now here is where I went wrong.
I literally cannot stress this enough: DO. NOT. GOOGLE. LEEP. SURGERY. And then hit images. Don’t. Just…don’t.
The Canadian One threatened to confiscate my phone. He, at regular intervals, would send me gifs of Michael Scott yelling NOOOOOO.
The only thing that calmed me down was a Reddit thread where people explained it actually wasn’t that bad and that you shouldn’t Google it.
Reddit, the place I turned to last year when there was a Red Bull shortage in Calgary. (That’s true, you can probably still find my question. I have no idea how to log into Reddit so it must still be there)
Two weeks later, I find myself in the colposcopy clinic again. Feet cold in the stirrups, happy I remembered a pad and took the Motrin, staring at the ceiling, the big screen, declining the offer to watch, chitchatting with the nurse about summer plans (it was my fourth, I knew the drill).
The doctor said she saw some HSIL, we talked about my trip to the USA, when my LEEP would be, when the biopsy results would be back to see how deep the abnormal cells go.
Two weeks later I get the call.
Results are in.
That was quick. The last time I had to call them.
‘Oh my God, it’s bad.’ I say.
‘You don’t know that. We said we would call either way.’ said the nurse, no air of emotion in her voice. I had no idea if she was calling with good or bad news.
She confirmed I am who I say I am and then said it.
All the biopsies were perfectly normal. The PAP was wrong.
What the sh*t?! – Actual Quote
After swearing at her a few more times and then apologizing several times and making her explain again…and again what she meant by ‘all clear’…I thanked her, arranged my 6 month follow up to check that the biopsy results were consistent and hung up.
So now I’m left in this position: Either my PAP was wrong and I’m that friend you get to tell all your other friends about who’s PAP was wrong and she was fine.
Or I’m not fine, the biopsy was wrong and I am f*cked.
While trying to explain Halloween in Ireland to The Canadian One I was remembering all sorts of different traditions we have that are different from his.
For one, in my family we never carved a Jack-O’-Lantern (or Pumpkin). People in Ireland did but in my family we just didn’t do it.
Our pumpkin…with our cat…dressed as a pumpkin. Note: Only one of us is excited in this photo. And it’s not her.
As child, we would dress up, go trick-or-treating, drop all our candy at home and hit the bonfire for some staring at fire and watching of fireworks. Other side-traditions that may have been more my-family-centric included finding the cat, coaxing the cat indoors, locking the cat in the living room, hiding all the wood in the weeks leading up to the bonfire night (for fear of it being stolen) and, of course, no Halloween was complete without the eating of the Halloween Brack.
Oddly, The Canadian One actually already knows about barmbrack. A few months ago, he excitedly told me about this Irish fruitcake that was baked on an episode of Deadwood he’d seen the night before. He said there were items baked into the fruit cake and…
I stopped him there.
“Like a ring and whatnot?” I asked.
“YES!! You know about this cake? Is it a thing?” he exclaimed.
‘Is it a thing?’ is an often asked question in our house.
“Yeah, it’s called brack. Like Halloween brack. Or barmbrack. We eat it at Halloween. It’s got stuff inside it. You know, I was always so excited to get the ring from the brack when I was little. You buy it at Dunnes.”
He stared at me. It was the same expression he had on his face when I was acting out the game ‘conkers’ to him. I often forget when I’m explaining things to people who didn’t grow up with this being normalcy, they may find it fascinating.
I almost told him about bobbing for apples but opted out of it. Also thinking about bobbing for apples now. I mean, you get one kid with a cold playing that game and everyone is wiped out!
It’s strange to think back on some of the things we did as kids on Halloween. As a child the only rules were be home before dark (and ‘stop slamming the frikkin’ door on your way in and out’). My mother never really knew where we were or what we were doing. We went out unsupervised trick-or-treating. We would wander too close to the bonfire which was basically a pile of wood in the middle of a grassy community area set alight. My brother said there was a shopping trolley on it this year. We ate our candy without thinking twice about if it could be dangerous. Is wasn’t so much, ‘was there poison in our apples?’ it was more ‘why did someone give us apples? Which house was that, let’s never visit again.’
And why were there always so many peanuts in shells.
No one ever worried about allergies. Or gluten. Or dairy.
Me, as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, aged 7 or 8
As for costumes, I’ve dressed as a plethora of different things growing up including, but not limited to, my hooker outfit above. I wanted to be Pretty Woman. I went around telling people I was a hooker until my mother told me I should probably just tell people I was Julia Roberts.
My mother would make all my costumes (yes, including the one above). I was a robot one year in a cardboard box covered in tin foil and remember being sad I couldn’t pee most of the night. People used me as a candy table for a bit. I was the World Cup another year with a gold covered lampshade on my head. I won a costume competition. I was a witch. A ghost. I dressed all in white once and stuck a glowing star to my chest and was the Star of Bethlehem (the curse of attending an all-girls catholic school).
Me as a witch
As an adult I’ve been a snowman…
With Stan looking dapper as a cat.
…and Minnie Mouse in the same weekend. This is me (a mere 24 hours after the above photo was taken in a 2am McDonald’s dance-off with Spiderman…that ended in a song because of course…). Poor Stan looking embarrassed in the background:
Last year I decided to be a bee.
In Canada I’ve been a bee twice. Once while working at a call center a bunch of us dressed as worker bees.
But last year, I made the whole family get in on the bee theme:
Only one of us is truly happy in this photo
I would later get drunk and yell excitedly ‘I’m a bee!!!” at a Calgary police officer sitting in a truck as we were leaving a Halloween party. ‘He’s a beekeeper!!!’ I would continue to yell across the sidewalk to him as I pointed at The Canadian One. The cop waved to me and yelled back, ‘I KNOW!! WE MET YOU EARLIER!”
Oh yeah. That’s right.
He was the same cop who complemented The Canadian One on his beekeeper outfit and suggested we round up all the many bees at the party and take a picture with them.
But dammit, we should have!
It was only later when I was looking at old pictures to find the one of me as a witch, I remembered this: I was a bee before. In Spain. With my brother.
Again, one of us is way more excited than the other.
I’ve now dressed as a bee three times in my lifetime.
None of them were in Ireland.
What are some of your Halloween memories or traditions? Got a funny childhood costume you want to share?
This 30+ degree weather has really tipped my iced tea addiction over the edge. I recently went through this heart thing whereby I had to wear a fun heart monitor for 48 hours and couldn’t shower. (full disclosure: you should read the word fun as if it were in sarcastic font)
Anyway, I was told not to drink coffee for the month of tests so I switched to tea. And like any good Irish girl, I took to tea like..well…a girl who’s coffee has been taken away from her and she’s left with little option.
Incidentally, this was not the first time I was told to give up coffee.
When I was experiencing acid reflux, I was told to quit coffee and alcohol or take pills for 30 days. I choose the pills. What? I sense you judging me! I get up at 5:20am. I would die. I told my doctor this. I didn’t even bother making up a story. I just said no. He gave me the pills. When I returned 30 days later, he asked how giving up coffee went. I told him I did not do that. He gave me more pills. I got better. I stopped taking the pills. I still drank coffee.
I also experience migraines, have since I was 19. I’ve been told several times over the years to give up coffee, it will help with your migraines, it will reduce them, you might get better, blah blah blah…
Turns out, a by product of giving up coffee for this heart monitor thing is a reduction in migraines.
I was wrong.
(Or those weird weather phenomenons called Chinooks that happen in Calgary have ended and it’s a coincidence. We’ll find out for sure next winter.)
Back to the iced tea.
I decided to learn how to make iced tea and very very rapidly decided I loooove iced tea. I made pitchers of it. I put it in the fridge. I hung around waiting for it to cool, for it to absorb the lemons, to become icy liquid gold. However, I happened upon a problem. A daily iced tea for one was the problem.
Now, there are multiple recipes for iced tea online and believe me, I have tried many of them. When I don’t feel lazy, I make iced tea with a pot on the stove with cut up lemons and measured out sugar but when you wake up at 5:20am and are already sweating from the heat, you want a caffeinated drink with iced. Or at least I do anyway.
And it was a problem.
Until I came up with a solution. (The fizz is from my addiction to Starbucks Iced Tea Lemonade…you can leave out the fizz if you want)
Lazy Lemon Iced Tea
(originally I called this Lazy Girl’s Lemon Iced Tea but thought I might get emails…but I just wanted you to know, that’s what I call it when I’m not on the Internet)
2 Orange Pekoe tea bags
250ml hot water
1-2 tsp lemon juice
250ml Club Soda or sparkling water (or regular cold water if you don’t like fizz)
1tsp of sugar (optional)
Handful of ice cubes
Place both tea bags, sugar (if using) and hot water in a 500ml mason jar (or some kinda 500ml holding, hot water resistant vessel)
Allow to steep for 4-5 minutes and then take out the tea bags. At this point, depending on how much of a hurry I’m in, I will either place the tea in the fridge to cool down or I’ll just shove a bunch of ice cubes into the mason jar and hope for the best.
Mix in the lemon juice and add enough Club Soda to fill the mason jar.
Add straw. Drink.
Sometimes I’ll use flavoured tea bags like Black Tea with Blackcurrants or Black Tea and Raspberries and will omit the sugar and lemon.
(I am not driving in this photo…just to be clear! I also, when I posted it on Facebook, needed to clarify we are not drinking alcohol. It is just iced tea!)
I discovered that my phone had been recording every phone call made on my phone from Feb 2015-Jan 2016.
Every phone call.
Now, while you may be thinking, ‘HOLY SHIT!! WTF?!!! SPIES!!! MALWARE!! OMG!’. I immediately thought, ‘Ohhhh…so that app did work.’
See here’s what happened, I downloaded an app back in February 2015 to record my voicemails separately as my phone will only save three and then starts deleting them. I had the bright idea that if I could record the voicemails separately, if I needed the information later, I could retrieve it.
It was a solid plan.
I would run the app, call the voicemail and the app would automatically record it.
However, I couldn’t figure out how to use the app and quickly abandoned it. Then, while cleaning out my apps in January because I had run out of memory (there’s that mystery solved), I deleted the call recording app.
Over the year, I had updated my phone. Turned off and on my phone. Closed all apps hundreds of times. Had a battery problem where it kept shutting off (a problem that just kinda went away by itself…). And still, this app kept on chugging away.
Until, when testing out my new C25K app’s in-app music, it pulled from my ‘music’ folder a call The Canadian One made to me on his first night in Hamilton for work.
Not a great soundbite to workout to.
As strange as it was to discover it did record all my calls, I also realized 95% of the calls were from The Canadian One…at a grocery store…mostly regarding the shopping list. Things like:
“They have no onions.”
“HOW CAN THEY NOT HAVE RUFFLES?!! THERE’S BEEN A SPIKE IN RUFFLE SALES.”
“The toilet roll is not on sale…what do I do?”
“I’m going to Safeway. Your bread isn’t here.”
And the other 5% were my doctor and dentist confirming appointments.
I do not lead a very exciting phone call life.
I listened to maybe 10 to get the gist of them – they were so clear it was like I had recorded it in the room with both people – and then I deleted them.
I deleted the HUNDREDS of calls my phone had been saving.
It’s been a few weeks since my last update on how my Road to 5K is going and…
…it’s not been going well.
In my second week of training, I started to get these twinges in my right knee. I didn’t think much of it. Maybe it was from suddenly starting to do an exercise that didn’t involve Netflix and the couch. Or from having an inability to run in a straight line.
Why is that so difficult?
The first time it happened, I ignored it. Meh, it’s nothing. Just the usual muscle pain associated with new exercise. It soon wore off and I was fine. The second time, it took longer for me to get over it. I sat around my house, my knee feeling hot and puffy but generally looking fine. Normal. Like a normal knee should look.
Again, I thought, maybe it’s normal.
It was not.
I jogged again two days later – keeping with my every-second-day schedule – and quit midway through. The pain was shooting through me and I worried I would become stranded a 15 minute jog from home unable to walk. I briefly considered locating a Car2Go and then realized I should probably just continue walking.
I went home and lay on the couch, sad.
Then it hurt when I walked. Or when I stood. Or when I was just sitting around at my desk.
It had become a problem.
I put heat on it.
You should not put heat on it.
I called my regular physiotherapist thinking that may be the solution but she was out of town. I quickly acquired a new one and set up an appointment for the following week.
I happened to be seeing my regular doctor for completely unrelated issue (renewing a migraine meds prescription) and casually asked if I should be using heat or ice. We established no heat. Heat makes it worse and I got a prescription for some kinda, I don’t know, like gloopy gel you rub on your knee. It’s sort of the consistency of Vaseline. It’s weird. I’m not sure I like it. And I’m not sure it does anything.
And also I lost it somewhere.
My appointment with the physio came and poof, I was quickly diagnosed with patellofemoral injury aka Runner’s Knee.
Seriously. Was there ever a more apt name for an injury?
I got all taped up, got given my set of exercises to do and was ordered to jog a little on Sunday…which I failed to do. It was raining.
And I was hungover.
But mainly, the rain thing.
I returned to physio on Monday and, having been through a year of physio before and knowing these lovely magical people don’t take kindly to bullshit, I trailing my ‘Hi, how are you?’ with ‘I have done minimum exercise and didn’t jog’.
Just wanted to admit that right off the bat.
We did a little physio, some ultrasounding, some stretches and I was sent home with the same exercises and schedule I had failed to follow the previous week. We also discovered pain in my left knee and things started to look bleak for the marathon.
Between my second and third appointment, the following Monday, I managed 2 short jogs (I did Week 1: Day 1 again, twice) and got through some of the exercises I was given.
Yes yes, I know, you should follow your physio’s advice, blah blah blah.
You try it.
The pain was hovering around a 1 on the 1 to stabbed-in-the-eyeball scale and I was feeling pretty good. At my third, and last, appointment (13 days from Race Day), my left knee had healed and my right knee was doing so much better I was given new exercises, the go-ahead to at least attempt the race and a doctor’s note to excuse me from the fire drill that was due in my building. I work on the 40th floor. Evacuating during a fire drill from that height is bad enough when you are completely fine (hot, pissed off, and wishing you’d brought your coffee doesn’t count here), but with an injured knee, a 5K race looming and 3 physio appointments behind you, it’s not a good idea.
Which brings me to 6 days ago. I set out, sans Couch25K app, to just generally get a feel for what the distance of 5K felt like. I miscalculated the yellow ball in the sky and overheated almost as soon as I left the apartment. I made it to 4.16km before I genuinely thought the sun would kill me and I needed to wear less clothing.
Two days later it snowed (welcome to Calgary), so I waited until the following day. It was rainy and windy so I dressed appropriately in long pants, a t-shirt and sweater. About 20 minutes in I felt ill. I was hot, nauseous, a little dizzy and winded and, let’s be fair, I wasn’t really going that fast I should not have felt like that.
Then it happened.
I got itchy.
All over my legs.
I was overheating and itchy and my chest started to hurt. My breathing, however, was fine and I quickly worked out this was not an emergency situation. I slowed to a snail pace and meandered home hitting 4.06km
Once in the door, without the distraction of the outside, the itching intensified. I took off my sweater and pants and stared at my legs.
My legs looked like bubble wrap.
I grabbed an ice pack for me knee and a glass of cold water and sat down…then did what any normal person would do in this situation. I took a picture of my legs and sent it to The Canadian One.
This a picture of my matching ice pack, dress and knee tape. Not the hives. Sorry.
I do enjoy co-ordination.
The hives disappeared within 40 minutes and I narrowed the cause down to:
Allergy to exercise – which is a real thing according to the Internet
Some freak allergic reaction to spending too much time outdoors (freak allergic reactions are not too uncommon for me…remember that throat closing incident?)
The migraine medication I took before I left the house to jog triggered a reaction
Now, while it is most likely that last one, I did seriously consider the first one as the answer.
Not giving up, I jogged 2.5km yesterday and, though my different-pants-I-wore-a-lot-when-training were itchy, they did not produce any hives leading to believe perhaps the itching was imaginary this second time.
Tomorrow I’ll attempt another 4-5km (today I’m taking a break) and I’ll update you on #HiveGate. And yes, I carry my EpiPen on my runs now…it’s in my cellphone holder belt…and is super inconvenient! Where am I suppose to put my phone now?!
Remember 6 weeks ago when I was like ‘Oh, hey, you know what might be fun, running a marathon. Yes, I know I’ve never run or even exercised before but how hard can it be?!’….A hurt knee, $50 worth of running clothes, 3 physiotherapy appointments and an outbreak of hives later and I think my brother may have put it best:
And yes, it routinely takes him 24 hours to respond to my texts.
However, I am still determined to do this 5K. If it takes me an hour to wander through the thing, I will do it. I set out on this mission and I am going to achieve it.
I WANT MY MEDAL!
Wait……do I get a medal? I should look that up.
OR The Canadian One can just get arts and craftsy and fashion one out of gold foil and Sharpies.
I would say ‘out of tin foil’ but I want a gold one goddammit.
Follow along with me as I go from binge-watching Scandal with gummie bears and Ruffles to running 5K in the Calgary Marathon in the space of 7 weeks supporting Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). Feel free to sponsor me here or just laugh along at my running journey.
Three years ago, a week into living in Canada-land, my father-in-law took us to see a Blue Jays game with my brother-in-law and his kids. I had never seen a baseball game before which is surprising given its prevalence in Korea. I spent the game mostly having no idea what was going on and no idea when it would end. The thing I was most excited about, and excited about the entire month leading up to the game…and in the car ride to the game…and at dinner before the game was the FOAM MITTEN!!
My father-in-law bought me a foam mitten after listening to me talk about it for days. I had always wanted a foam mitten as growing up I’d always seen them on American TV shows and thought they were the epitome of Americana. Or rather, Canada-ana…?
Or well, technically it would be Americana since Canada is part of North America…right?
And before anyone starts kicking off on my Facebook, it is not the same as the ‘Republic of Ireland is part of the UK’ debate.
Because that is wrong.
And Canada actually is part of the continent of North America.
Now I understood the basic rules from playing rounders at home, a game very similar to baseball but with less intricate rules. Of course, we would play using our sweaters as bases and a tennis racket as a bat but still, same concept. You hit the ball. You run. You stop at a base. Someone can tag you out while you’re running about or before you get to a base. The other team runs around the field like maniacs with no formal position other than ‘over there on the left’, ‘over there on the right – mind the STOP sign there next to you’ and ‘somewhere around this kinda middle area’. Also there are no baseball gloves in rounders
Last year, around the same time the Jays started to get good, The Canadian One got really into baseball.
And since we still had the Sports package from Telus which I hadn’t cancelled after hockey season (because their hold time is ridiculous!) we caught a few games.
By the time we lost and were knocked out, I came away from the season knowing three things:
Bautista rides a scooter home from work.
The Jays really like throwing champagne on each other.
And I really liked the Japanese fella.
This year, I aimed to come away with a bit more information. I learned his name was Kawasaki. I learned he was traded to the Cubs. And I learned that I had learned pointless information.
And so, I have been diligently asking questions about the games the past month. But since I am struggling with names, I have just renamed the players and it’s up to The Canadian One to remember who is who.
Which brings us to this past Wednesday, The Canadian One got stuck at work during the baseball game. Now, usually I would record the baseball game and we would watch it when he gets home at 8pm however this was an early game, it started at 1pm, so we both missed it.
At about 5pm, he text me to find out the score and I discovered the game was still afoot. I spent the next 90 minutes providing commentary of the game while he was working. (FYI I knew in this particular game the pitcher bats as it was explained to me both the day before and the day before that. Also I can spell nobody’s name…just the general gist of their name is usually sufficient for The Canadian One.)
And so I come to the end of week 2 and get my nifty new app skin to not even pay attention to other that when I press ‘Start Workout’ and bitch about why my Spotify isn’t working.
Spending two weeks jogging around my neighbourhood has made me realize that a lot of people use our quiet little area for learning how to drive. Hell, it’s where I learned how to drive. It only gets a little weird when I’m jogging faster than they are driving. Or when they stop randomly thinking I’m going to jump out onto the road and become a risk to them.
I think this with every pedestrian I come across.
Week 2: Workout 1 started off just like all the other workouts and when the jog beep kicked in and said I would be jogging for 90 seconds instead of 1 minute, I swore.
In my nice quiet neighbourhood.
It was not my finest moment.
I did, however, make it up the small incline (the mini hill, if you will) while jogging without stopping. OK so I wanted to stop. I needed to stop. I thought I was going to keel over on someone’s pristine lawn. But alas, I did not. And I made it up the top of the ‘hill’ before the walk beep went off.
Going back to the lawn for a second, I feel like we are barely out of the depths of winter and people are already out gardening. I mean, come on, it’s Calgary. There could be a snowstorm next week and yet a few days of sunshine and everyone’s lawns look freshly mowed and green.
Greenish. More of a browny green.
Week 2: Workout 3 had several things going against it:
It was Monday afternoon.
It was hot.
It was Monday afternoon.
I was technically supposed to jog every 2nd day so Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday BUT I missed Sunday because it was our wedding anniversary on Saturday and well….I didn’t feel like it. For our anniversary, we spent some time at the park playing badminton. We quickly discovered our shuttlecock wasn’t very good so we ventured off to a nearby Sportchek, picked up better shuttlecocks and returned to the park. Then we went out and ended up at a trivia night at a local bar drinking half priced vodka and whiskey. We cleverly named our team (of two people) ‘Anniversary1′ and bagged free drinks from the bar and from a neighbouring table.
Needless to say I was in no shape to jog on Sunday when I woke up. Unless tired, hungover and preferring to lie on the cold, hardwood floors of the apartment is considered a ‘shape’.
Around 2pm, feeling guilty about not jogging, we decided to venture out. After pumping up our tires and squishing our bikes into the car, we hit the park trail and went biking along a trail instead.
And then it was suddenly Monday.
And I had to jog.
As it turns out, I was actually fine. More than fine. I was super fine. OK, no, like somewhere in between fine and super fine.
I jogged around during the last workout of the Week 2 training session and was pleasantly surprised when the jog beep told me I was on jog 6 of 6.
I have discovered with the arrival of the sunshine, I have a new jogging nemisis other than the out of breathness, overheating and general achiness that’s become my default setting. Sprinklers. I almost got attacked by a wayward sprinkler on Monday. I narrowly avoided it after briefly considering running through it, arms spread out, soaring like a deranged sweaty eagle regretting some of its most recent life decisions.
Namely, jogging at 4pm in the afternoon heat.
Oh well, onto Week 3.
Also, on a side note and unrelated to jogging: I saw this bird in the park, it’s not a goose…what is it?!!! He looks like he’s wearing a little tuxedo.
Edit: It’s a pheasant! Thanks Courtney!!
Follow along with me as I go from binge-watching Scandal with gummie bears and Ruffles to running 5K in the Calgary Marathon in the space of 7 weeks supporting Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). Feel free to sponsor me here or just laugh along at my running journey.
People always ask me ‘How did you and The Canadian One meet?’, ‘Why is your blog called The Ketchup War?’ and ‘Why is the printer beeping? Can you come fix it?”
To answer that last question first, I have no idea. I’ll turn it off and turn it on and if that doesn’t work, I’ll call IT.
Except it always works. And then people think I know how to fix the printer.
Looking at our beginning, if how The Canadian One and I met was a TV show, it would be full of annoying near-misses that keep the storyline alive and almost-meet-cutes around sweeps week.
How I Met Your Mother The Canadian One
Season 1: Spring 2008 – 12 Days In And Still Jetlagged
My second weekend in Korea back in May 2008, I got invited to a poker game at my supervising teacher’s home and it was there that I met a long-haired guy we shall dub Drummer-Boy. He had lived in my apartment and worked at my school the year before and was swiftly beating me at poker. I’ve covered my skills (or lack thereof) at poker previously but the fact that he took all my money is not the point here. I liked Drummer-Boy. He was my first new friend outside of my workmates that I had made, he lived an hour and a half away in Seoul and the subject of how his mother made Teletubbies quickly came up.
After a brief chat, we discovered we’d both worked in the same chain of betting shops in the UK around the same time a few years prior. We even figured we may have even spoken on the phone a handful of times as it was often required to call other branches to verify information.
While living in Cheonan, an hour and a half south of Seoul, I had somehow managed to live in a three bedroom apartment alone for the first few months until Em arrived. Drummer-Boy would often come visit old friends (and new friends) in my town and crash in one of my spare rooms.
We would go on to become firm friends, hanging out in his town (Seoul) and my town (Cheonan). He introduced me to his friend H, from Scotland, who would go on to become my travel and touring buddy (and partner-in-crime) in the years to come.
I, meanwhile, would visit Seoul a lot over the next 2 years, sleeping on H’s floor and spending our evenings watching Drummer-Boy’s band, Angry Bear, play in local bars and clubs.
And that, kids, is how I met…your Uncle Patrick.
Season 2: Christmas 2009 – A Trip Back To Cheonan
In 2009, Patrick brought his British friend, Sam, to Christmas dinner at our poker buddy’s home. Both Em and I had moved out of Cheonan by this time – having completed our year-long contracts there – and were living separately up nearer to Seoul. We met up and journeyed down to our old home town together, stopping in at a Burger King for a pre-dinner lunch of burgers and fries.
Now, Sam was memorable for three things:
1. He was also drummer but in a different band
2. He was also British, like Patrick
And 3. He insisted on calling me British for the entire night.
Some weeks later, as I’m leaving a magazine launch party with Em not paying a bit of attention to the band on stage, I suddenly spot my British nemesis from Christmas dinner on stage playing drums with the band. A passing “Hey, isn’t that Sam from Christmas dinner?” and a confirmation that yes it is and we were whisked out of the club and onto somewhere else.
The band Sam was playing with was Bedroom States…
It was their first live show…
And The Canadian One was their lead singer.
Season 3: Spring 2010: An Album and a Retreat
Between March 2010 and April 2010, I would move back to Cheonan and The Canadian One and I would attend two Angry Bear events in small venues and never meet.
The first was the Angry Bear first album launch that I attended with H, maybe Em and my date from speed dating a few weeks before. Yes, I went speed dating. Yes, it was awesome. I’ll tell you about it sometime. Actually, there’s a picture of me attached to an article online written by the guy I went on the date with. However, due to a dispute I had with that publication, I’m not linking to it. The guy was nice though. He was there covering the event for an article he was writing and I ended up dating him for a short period of time. For the record, my dispute with the publication and the non-successful continuation of my dates with my speed-date date were unconnected. That ridiculousness would come years later.
The second event both The Canadian One and I attended at the same time was the following month. H and I had signed ourselves up for a Buddhist Temple Retreat and I was up in Seoul to catch the bus with her early the next morning. The retreat seemed like a really good idea at the time however Patrick’s band was playing a gig the night before and since I was up in Seoul for the retreat anyway, we figured, meh, let’s go.
They were playing in a bar behind a coffee shop with a man dressed as a clown tending bar. I want to say it was 80’s night but it was Korea so it’s entirely possible it was just a regular Friday.
As we were early we went off to play darts in the corner and take advantage of the cheap shots that were on offer that night. The band arrived, we stood around with them for a bit, then went off and danced and hung out by ourselves. We were working on drumming up support for our cause to pressure the band into playing an old song of theirs. We loved the song but they rarely played it anymore as it was several years old (although it would be the last song I heard them play live at our leaving-Korea party). Our plan that night basically consisted of us gathering a small crowd to yell the name of the song at the band during every song interval until our plan worked.
After several rounds of drunk people yelling ‘Clementine’ at them, they caved.
Hours before our tour bus left and we were still at the party. Or rather, we were outside the party on the street with one of us throwing up (H) and the other not helping at all (me). At this point the Buddhist retreat was seeming like one of those plans you make for a Saturday night on a Tuesday but when Saturday rolls ‘round you’re thinking ‘Someone cancel, SOMEONE CANCEL, GOOD GOD PLEASE!!’ so you can just stay home.
But we still made it.
I remember being hungover, wearing inappropriate shoes for a hike I wasn’t warned about and ultimately becoming upset and frustrated during a ‘relaxing’ lotus flower making session.
I also recall eating flower pancakes and no, that’s not a misspelling. I do mean flower.
As it turned out, in that very same bar on that very same night was The Canadian One. He was at the same clown-man-behind-the-bar-show as us and had we hung out with the band more and not been off downing colourful shots and gathering a posse, we would have met.
Season 4: Summer 2010 – The Almost Meet
At the end of July 2010, I had a week off work which coincided with the Jisan Valley Rock Festival in Icheon. H, Em and I all decided we would go and camp for all three days of the festival. We bought our tickets, planned our weekend and I jetted off to Jeju-do for the few days prior and did exciting things like beach drinking and visiting sex parks
When I got back, I was dying of a cold (probably due to the massive amounts of beach drinking I did) and not feeling the tent-sleeping aspect of the trip. I eventually turned up two days late but had missed meeting The Canadian One who’d been there hanging out with Patrick and left a few hours prior to my arrival.
This would also become the weekend everyone referred to as ‘Remember that time Jenny was 2 days late for the musical festival?’
Season 5: Fall 2010 – A Train of Wine & Dance
Skipping forward to November 2010 and Patrick’s band had acquired a fourth member. The fourth member actually joined prior to summer but this was the first opportunity we would have to see them as a new four-piece. When Patrick called to tell me about adding a guitar player, I made fun of him.
“Why would you need two guitar players?”, I said. “Get a keyboard player. Keyboard players are cool.”
H and I were invited to their show and planned to go, however, it did clash with a Wine Train we were going on for H’s birthday.
‘What’s a Wine Train?’, you say.
Well, let me tell you.
A Wine Train is tour-guided day of drinking wine on a train, in a vineyard, at some kinda museum type place and then some arts and crafts to round out the day. It ends with more wine and bad dancing on the train home.
I found out later that in preparation for us perhaps actually turning up for the show, the band had practiced the song H and I loved with the new guitar player. They had fully explaining our peer pressure antics and general ‘play our goddamn song’ mentality to him.
Patrick, however, theorized that we would not make it due to an overabundance of wine and merriment.
Patrick knew us very well.
We didn’t make it anywhere near the gig.
In fact, I’m surprised we all made it home at a decent hour.
Season 6: Winter 2010 – Six Seasons and A Movie
Days after the Wine Train, Patrick announced his band would be coming to my town, Cheonan, and playing at our local hangout. I busied myself promoting the band’s gig. First I made my own tiny poster:
And then Patrick mailed me some ‘official’ posters.
H was coming down too and we quickly made dinner plans for his band and us and another friend. December 3rd rolls around and I arrived to dinner.
At least I wasn’t two days late for a musical festival kinda late.
When I got there, no food had been ordered, only drinks. I sat down next to Patrick, who was sitting next to their new guitarist:
The Canadian One.
I struck up a conversation with the little information I had: He was a guitarist. He was in a different band. Then he joined Patrick’s band. I was disappointed he was not a keyboard player. I thought perhaps I shouldn’t open with that. And that was literally it.
Our first conversation went something like:
Me: “So, I hear they stole you from another band?”
The Canadian One: “Well, no. I’m still in the other band. And in this band.”
Me: “What’s the other band?”
TCO: “Bedroom States.”
Me: “SAM’S BAND?!!”
TCO: “You know Sam?”
Me: “Yeah, he came to Christmas dinner last year. He kept calling me British.”
TCO: “You’re not British.”
We chatted a little about his other band and this new band and then he says: “I was in a band before Bedroom States called Animal Dads.”
And I stopped.
Me: “Wait…what?! I have your album on my iPod….”
And that was true.
As it turns out, waaaaaay back in March 2009 (so over a year and a half prior) Patrick had invited H and I to his friend’s band’s album launch. We went because we’re supportive like that and the bar had a great happy hour deal. Let’s be fair, we were probably more leaning towards the latter reasoning.
We paid to get in, got our albums, drank our drinks, danced our little hearts out and went home. We paid zero attention to the band on stage and moved on with our lives. Back at my apartment the following day, I put my CD into my laptop which automatically copied albums onto my iPod.
And thus I ended up with this album on my iPod.
The band: Animal Dads.
The lead singer: The Canadian One.
After the gig in Cheonan, he offered to buy me a drink for my wonderful ‘postering’ and promoting of the gig. I explained how, due to a misunderstanding, the barman actually bought me flowers as he thought we were promoting my birthday.
I also told him about how I was unimpressed that he wasn’t a keyboard player.
He spoke to Patrick about if I was single and if it was OK if he asked me out.
We chatted some more…
And then later that night….
He asked me out aaaaaaaanddddddd….
Series Finale – Part 1: Winter 2010 – Seoul-Mates
Our series finale, 2-parter episode opens on December 4th 2010 at a train station in Cheonan a mere 12 hours after I declined The Canadian One’s date offer.
Patrick, The Bass Player and I are all catching the same train up to Seoul as I was going work at a music festival for the most of the day and night and they lived there. The Canadian One and The Other Guitarist had left earlier in the morning.
While The Bass Player watched over the guitars, Patrick and I ventured to the ticket line. We were standing in line…waiting…waiting….waiting…and when we got to being the next to be served, an old man cut in front of us like a ninja and was at the ticket desk.
Patrick exchanged some words in Korean with the old man and then sighed, looking forlorn and defeated. He looked down at me:
“I said ‘no, it’s ok, you can go first, that’s fiiiine’ to him but clearly I don’t do sarcasm very well in Korean because he just thanked me.” – Patrick
The next 12 hours would be a montage of me working at the Rubber Seoul 2010 World AIDS Day Music Festival (a festival I would later go on to run for two years). Included would be:
My friend and I modelling the small beaded doll pins we were selling.
Being paid to stop trying to sell tickets to a group of people:
“Stickers are $1? If we pay you $5 and take no stickers, will you go away?” – Guys
“YES!” – Us
Me dressing as a condom and trying desperately not to be knocked over by drunk people.
I can’t find a picture.
But drunk people are mean. They kept trying to trip me up!
I had memorable conversation while handing out free condoms (dressed in normal clothes, my condom-costume hour was up). I hand one to a girl, who turns to look at her date, looks back at me and says:
And hands me the condom back.
And then finally, I vividly remember dancing with my friend to ‘We No Speak Americano’ by Yolanda Be Cool at the after-party and spotting The Canadian One and Patrick standing nearby. The Canadian One asked if he could buy me a drink and I said yes. I told him about my speed dating adventure from earlier in the year and we decided to pretend we were speed dating.
We sat opposite each other at a table.
We took it seriously.
And then we got kicked out of the bar because it was 3am and they were closing so we all headed home in our different directions.
To be continued….
Season Finale – Part 2: Christmas Day 2010 – First Date?
We montage through the next few weeks.
Given the 1.5 hour distance between us, The Canadian One and I would chat briefly and intermittently on Facebook and via text. Then it became less intermittent and more frequent. And then it was no longer brief and no longer intermittent and was pretty much taking up all of our spare time.
And here’s where the coincidental only-on-TV thing happens: The Canadian One was supposed to head to Ireland – where I am from and where he had never been – for a wedding over Christmas while I was off to sunny Malaysia with H for some winter beach time. A misspelling in his name ended with his ticket being cancelled last minute and he ended up spending Christmas in Seoul (while his friends jetted off for the wedding). Meanwhile I found myself in Seoul on Christmas Day to see a ballet and to fly out to Malaysia with H early on Boxing Day morning.
The Canadian One and I had arranged to meet for a drink near where he lived after I had said goodbye to my friends. After a miscommunication about which train station to meet at, we eventually located each other and headed to a bar and then to his place to watch a Christmas movie we’d earlier voted on.
He’d said Gremlins.
I’d said Die Hard.
Clearly we both have the same idea of what a Christmas movie is.
But we watched Gremlins.
He gave me a one half of a small penguin magnet set as a Christmas gift as I’d mentioned my favourite animals were penguins. I put it in my purse and it travelled to Malaysia with me as I flew out the very next morning with H.
He kept the matching one on his fridge.
A year and a half later, it would be reunited with The Canadian One’s penguin and now they live together on our fridge holding up our wedding photo from exactly a year ago today.
And so I come to the end of my first week of training. In a mere 6 days, I’ve gone from a couch-loving, Netflix-watching Irish girl to a couch-loving, Netflix-watching Irish girl who can also jog a 3.5km without dying.
“I hate healthy living. There’s no alcohol and you have to jog.” – Me, deciding to only drink on weekends while doing this jogging malarkey.
Week 1: Workout 3 was actually easier than the rest. I managed to get through Jogs 1-4 without begging for it to end. There was no feeling like I might throw up. No feeling like I won’t make it. There was a lot of out of breathness and chest pain but oddly no leg pain and the trusty side stitch didn’t appear until Jog 7. I drank a smoothie an hour before my jog having learned from Workout 2 not to eat right before a jog or bad things can happen.
The workout, though void of drama, was full of many firsts and Moosh’s dad drove up alongside me at one point, cheering me on as I sailed through the neighbourhood in the sun.
With the end of my period nearing, it was my first time jogging while wearing a mini Lunapad, a material pad you use instead of a pantyliner at the end of your period or on ‘light’ days. Unlike disposable pads, they aren’t sticky so a main worry was that they would slip about. I switched over to them for daily pantyliner usage a while back as I’m not a fan of the disposable ones they sell in stores. I did not switch over to Lunapads for period usage so I had done Workouts 1 and 2 wearing a regular Kotex pad. Now, I figured jogging with a Lunapad would be uncomfortable as it took me a while to get used to wearing them in general but it was actually fine. I forgot about it the moment I got outside and any concern I had regarding chafing or slippage disappeared the moment the first Jog Beep started and I realized that I would have to actually jog now.
Workout 3 also marked the first time I went jogging after a full day of work. Workouts 1 and 2 were on a half day and a day off respectively. However getting up at 5:20am, working all day and then jogging at 5pm as soon as I got home hadn’t made me even more tired like I thought. Instead I found I was full of energy and ended up cooking Irish Stew, writing and then cleaning the kitchen.
Unfortunately, the workout was the first time I actually slowed to a walk during one of my jogs. I’d accidentally reached the hill quicker than usual and 10 seconds before the Walk Beep went off, I just began walking up the hill. Hill Jogging I am not ready for.
My trip to Winners resulted in some cheap but pretty essentials and, let me tell you, a proper fitted sports bra to hold my tiny muffins in place lead to a much more comfortable session this time around. I ran with my new little waist strap to hold my phone and keys and it made all the difference. The freedom to swing my arms around without care was a nice novelty for about 10 minutes.
To figure out my distance, I downloaded the Map My Run app and had a few minutes of trial and error trying to get C25K, Map My Run and Spotify to all work at the same time. Tip: Open C25K first. Turns out my house to Moosh’s and back is 3.5km.
Showing The Canadian One my little running map upon my return he pointed out how I was zigzagging all over the place while going straight. It looked like a small child freehand drew a straight line from point A to point B. At one point I zigzagged across the street and then back again. I was trying not to scare a walking-lady by jogging up behind her…and then randomly slowing down right in front of her when the Walk Beep kicked in.
Tomorrow kicks off Week 2:Workout 1 and rain. It’s supposed to rain. But I’m Irish. A little rain has never stopped me from going outside before.
Although any threat of snow, and I refuse to even get into the car!
And on to Week 2!
Follow along with me as I go from binge-watching Scandal with gummie bears and Ruffles to running 5K in the Calgary Marathon in the space of 7 weeks supporting Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). Feel free to sponsor me hereor just laugh along at my running journey.
Yesterday morning, I breathlessly completed Week 1: Workout 2 on the C25K app and, though I had figured it would be easier than Workout 1, I was wrong. It was not.
It was much harder.
My body was still sore from the first workout two days before and as soon as I hit the pavement, I knew it was going to be rough.
I got through the 5 minute warmup walk, passed the playground and realized I was incorrect in my last post, it was not a hippo the baby was on, it was a purple dinosaur.
During Jog 1, I was almost immediately out of breath and my throat started to burn. The jogging minute felt like an eternity and I almost quit right there and then. I reached a stop sign and almost considered heeding its warning but kept going.
I used Walk 1 to slow down and catch my breath before the next Jog Beep kicked in.
Jog 2 was awful. My chest burned, my mouth was filling with hot saliva, I was overheating already. I was not going to make it.
During Jogs 3 and 4 I was starting to get into a little bit of a stride. I made it to my turning point, Moosh’s House, and was on the way back to my house.
I had crossed the halfway point. Things were going well. Things were looking up!
Then I started to feel like I might throw up. I started jogging slow enough you could almost call it a fast, bouncy walk. My brother had told me to try to jog slow like if I was going any slow I could consider it a fast walk, but not quite. I was trying to aim for that speed. As I didn’t want to actually physically stop, I alternated between fast and slow as I bounced along the sidewalk.
I began to realize eating a cereal bar right before I left the house was not a good idea and began to panic about what would happen if I really did throw up.
A while back, I got sent home from work ill. I was sweating, pale (more pale than usual for an Irish girl) and visibly hot. My manager called a cab (the company paid for it) and sent me home. Midway though the journey, I asked the cabbie to pull over as I was going to vomit. He stopped in the middle of the road in a suburban neighbourhood, I jumped out and threw up several times on an apartment building lawn. A shirtless man watched me from his balcony as a row of cars began to pile up behind my cab. It was a very classy moment for me.
It was noonish, I was wearing an office outfit and nice shoes (I was very concerned about getting puke on my shoes) and there I was, throwing up several times on a pristine lawn.
I got back into the cab, the cabbie thanked me for telling him advance that I was ill (apparently most people don’t) and off we went to my apartment.
I imagined throwing up in my own neighbourhood to be like that, except it would be a house lawn not an apartment building, which is somehow so much worse!
And as I jogged past the now-completed trampoline I started taking deep breaths which didn’t help and I started coughing.
I managed to fumble through the rest of the workout, ending at my house at the exact moment the workout ended. The first time I had to go around the block on more time as I was a little faster.
The pain afterwards was less intense, however, and today I feel absolutely fine. I headed to Winners to pick up a sports bra and a belt to keep my phone in so I don’t have to carry it during my next workout and am overall more positive about this whole thing.
I’m not longer looking at this as a larger goal of ‘Running 5K’, but more of a smaller, achievable goal of ‘Running Jogs 1-4 without thinking I’m dying’.
Once I do that, I’ll up it to ‘Running Jogs 1-6 without death’.
Then it’s just a quick hop, skip and a job to the 5k!
Follow along with me as I go from binge-watching Scandal with gummie bears and Ruffles to running 5K in the Calgary Marathon in the space of 7 weeks supporting Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). Feel free to sponsor me here or just laugh along at my running journey.
So it’s the morning after the first training session the night before and….ouch! Had I written this post last night, I would have replaced ‘ouch’ with ‘OH GOD WHYYYYY?!’. But alas, I waited. All that lying on the floor overheating, downing water and eating Chickpea Curry Soup kinda took up a lot of my afternoon.
At the end of Day 1 I came out of the workout knowing one thing: my favourite part of the entire thing was the cool down 5 minute walk at the end.
But let’s start at the beginning.
My brother had given me advice of don’t jog too quickly on the first one, keep an eye on what I eat beforehand and how it affects me (Does it make me ill? Lethargic? Give me energy?) and if I start to feel sick or waver, I should slow down and just walk, get that distance in.
The first hurdle I hit was my phone battery was dying so 1.5 hours and two laundry loads later, I was finally ready to at least leave the house.
The next hurdle was what to wear. I quickly located my short yoga pants, a sports bra, t-shirt and light sweater. Most of this had been purchased and never worn when I had aspirations to do yoga some months back. I bought the clothes. I bought the Groupon. The Groupon expired. No yoga was done. The clothes sat pristine in the wardrobe.
After that was the location. I had decided to run around my neighborhood as it’s quiet and not too hilly. I opted to run in a rectangular shape starting and ending at my home as I wanted to avoid zigzagging all over the place and getting myself lost in the suburban maze of pointy houses, bungalows and trees. I picked a location that would be roughly midway through my session and dubbed that my turning point. We could also call it Moosh’s House.
Moosh at my house
He lives at my turning point, the point in which I should head back towards my house in order to end the workout there on time.
I was using the C25K app and once I worked out how to get Spotify to play at the same time as the training app (open C25K, open Spotify, play Spotify, start workout), I was off. The workout instructions were pretty easy to follow and the trainer’s voice was not nearly as annoying as my GPS’s voice.
God, that GPS I just…Nevermind. A rant for another time.
Workout 1: Day 1 basically consists of a 5 minute warm-up walk followed by 1 minute of jogging then 90 seconds of walking then 1 minute of jogging, then walking, and so on for 20 minutes. Then there’s another 5 minute cool down walk. It tells you how many jogging sessions you have left, 3 of 8, and so on. It also tells you when you are halfway done which was nice to hear.
Jog 1 of 8 went ok. I kept a nice pace and thought to myself I could do this, I can do seven more of these, it’s all good. I jogged past a playground where a woman was taking off her shoes and unclipping a small child from her stroller. She stood to survey the empty playground as I went by.
Jog 2 was a little harder. There was a slight incline to the road. My chest started to burn. I was keeping a ‘conversational pace’ (pace in which you could still carry a conversation) but I was still getting out of breath. It was day 2 of my period and I already needed to pee which was elevating my discomfort.
Jogs 3 and 4 were awful. My legs started to hurt. I became convinced I wouldn’t even make it to my halfway point. I could see Moosh’s House in the distance and it helped a little but it wasn’t enough to make me not start to panic and doubt that this was a bad idea. Me? Running? 5K? WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!
On the walk after Jog 4, having made it to Moosh’s and turned around, my app congratulating me on making it to the halfway point and I felt a little better. I was spurred on. If I could do half, maybe I can do three-quarters, right? I sped up my walk to get over a hill before the jog beep and during Jog 5 realized running downhill was actually quite nice and also one of my neighbors has a really pretty porch.
I was beginning to overheat at this point and carrying my phone and keys in my hand were becoming inconvenient. I originally had them in my pocket, but the keys jangled and the phone kept tapping against me. I need to come up with a better storage system for them. The distracting feeling of needing to pee was diminishing, replaced with a cramping feeling I couldn’t distinguish as period pain or workout death, I mean related…workout related.
It was during Walk 6/Jog 6 I began to return my thoughts to the seemingly insurmountable task of running an entire 5K. I mean, I couldn’t even run for 1 minute without my legs burning, a stabbing pain in my rib cage and a general feeling of ‘WHY THE FUCK AM I DOING THIS?’ washing over me with each escaping bead of sweat! Then I passed by a yard with three guys in it trying to assemble a trampoline while small, impatient kids crowded them and was instantly enthralled. One stood with, what I imagine to be, an instruction sheet while the other two men stared at the half completed trampoline. Their confused faces made me flashback to trying to put the Cat Tower together or anytime we’ve bought anything from IKEA. A safety net lay strewn on the grass nearby and a kid was bouncing his hands on the side of the trampoline itching to climb onto it as I panted past.
For the entire of Jog 7 I kept repeating ‘I can do this, I can do this’. In my head. Not aloud. I didn’t want to be that weird jogger talking to herself. I was already not exactly jogging in a straight line and I had awkwardly caught up to an orange-jacketed walker and didn’t know what to do. I crossed the street and heard the walk beep.
Jog 8 actually went OK. It was the last one so it had that going for it. I passed by the playground again where the woman was now perching her 1 year old-ish (too small to walk) child on a bouncy hippo type thing. She was cooing and talking to the baby while the baby just kinda stared at her with almost the same expression as the trampoline-constructors.
During the 5 minute cool down, I recapped my first workout. I noted the cereal bar and handful of All-Dressed Ruffles I’d eaten beforehand had no negative effects on me…although I can’t say for sure they had a positive effect.
Then it was done and I got my virtual trophy.
The entire 30 minutes felt a lot shorter once it was over, however each jogging minute felt like an eternity. My Spotify playlist served me well, Classic Rock Workout by Spotify UK, and as ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ blared through my little headphones during the cool down, I felt victorious.
And today, with my legs hurting and my stomach muscles feeling like they have been awoken from a life-long hibernation, I can’t help but think now I just have to do this three times a week for seven more weeks.
Follow along with me as I go from binge-watching Scandal with gummie bears and Ruffles to running 5K in the Calgary Marathon in the space of 7 weeks supporting Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS). Feel free to sponsor me here or just laugh along at my running journey.
I used to see kids running around on the playground when I worked in Korea and think, ‘I couldn’t run like that if a bear was chasing me’. And now that I live in Alberta and the chances of an actual bear chasing me is significantly more likely than on the streets of Seoul, I STILL think the exact same thing.
‘I couldn’t run if a fucking bear was chasing me. I would just get eaten.’
So, on Sunday, with The Canadian One at work, I decided to change all that and take up running.
I downloaded the C25K app on my phone (because it was free) and…well, that’s all I did that day apart from the three episodes of Scandal I watched. Oh and that one episode of Law & Order: SVU.
On Monday I was ill and home from work and by the time Tuesday rolled around, I’d kinda abandoned my spur of the moment idea only to have it reawakened on Wednesday.
I saw an ad for the Calgary Marathon and, though at the time I was struggling to breathe due to period pain at the time, I decided I would sign up.
So basically, in a nutshell, I’ve decided to run a marathon.
The Calgary Marathon.
Ok, not the full marathon.
Just the 5K.
But come on, I’m planning to go from binge-watching Scandal with gummie bears and Ruffles to running 3.1 miles in the space of 7 weeks.
If anything, this is going to be entertaining to witness.
When I texted my brother to tell him I was going to run a 5K, he laughed. And laughed. And laughed a bit more. And then gave me some advice.
He’s run the full Dublin, London and Paris marathons and the advice he gave seemed sound.
Training starts today so I’ll update you on how it goes. I’ve decided to add a little incentive to it so I actually do it so I signed up to the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. I chose to support the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS), who, not only do fantastic work in animal rescue, they are also the people we adopted Pickles from a year ago!
(You can see more pictures of her on her Instagram: @picklesatnoon if you’re into cute cat pictures)
Feel free to sponsor meHEREor just follow along on my progress/downfall (we’ll delete as appropriate later) here.
‘This should be interesting’, she says, typing on her laptop, eating a handful of Ruffles and contemplating rum, ‘Very interesting.’
You will all be happy to know the energy crisis of 2016 has been resolved.
The Red Bull energy crisis that is.
You see, I eat a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, sesame-free and preservative-free diet (not by choice) and, because The Canadian One is diabetic, we also eat low-carb. Salad. Lots of colorful vegetables. Salad. Fruit. Grains. Salad. Chickpeas. Lentils. Did I mention salad?
Given this, I do not feel bad about my 2 Red Bull a week habit.
Not at all.
Not one little bit.
The Canadian One: “Do you want a coffee?”
Me: “No. I don’t. I wish coffee came cold…and carbonated…and came in a tropical flavor.”
The Canadian: “That’s a completely different drink you are describing. That’s not coffee.”
Me: “No. It’s Red Bull. I want a Red Bull.”
Now, a few weeks ago, I started to noticed stock of Yellow Red Bull dwindling in the local Walmart. Thinking nothing of it except maybe Wally’s was not stocking it anymore, I wandered to the 7-11 across the street to discover they were sporting just the original and no-sugar versions.
A week later, I noticed the convenience store in my work building had only original flavor and a few color flavors and Shoppers had ONLY colored flavors.
I mentioned to The Canadian One I thought something was going on in Calgary with the Red Bull and I started to get suspicious.
A few days later, I mentioned it again.
And then again.
And then last week, I went into full ‘WHAT IS HAPPENING THE RED BULL??’ mode when Shoppers’ designated Red Bull fridge was completely empty and Safeway only had 8 Green Red Bulls in stock.
Like seriously, what bullshit.
Who drinks Green Red Bull? Nobody. That’s why it was the only flavor in stock. It’s like Blue flavor. Why does it exist?
So The Canadian suggested asking Reddit. He loves Reddit. My only interaction with Reddit has been him showing me things on Reddit on his phone.
A quick tutorial on Reddit later and my question is up online.
Lo and behold, within 10 hours, I had heard from someone who works in the building of the old distributors and someone who works for the new distributors, someone who got suspicious like me and emailed Red Bull HQ, several people who had noticed it but not to the point of investigating it, and a bunch of usual suspects complaining about Red Bull in general (bad taste, unhealthy, blah blah blah) that I kinda just glossed over.
Turns out the changeover to the new distributors did not go as smoothly as hoped and there was a supply problem in the west of Canada. The problem has since been resolved and Red Bull shall be winging its way back into stores very shortly.
My excitement at solving this mystery was slightly dampened when The Canadian One pointed out that at any point in the past three weeks, I could have solved this with one question to any of the staff members of any of those stores by asking:
‘Hey, so what’s going on with the Red Bull shortage?’
But my way was more fun.
Now to solve the next mystery: Why were there 4 police cars and an ambulance outside the Wendy’s yesterday?!!
1. St. Patrick was actually British. The Irish kidnapped him and forced him to work alone on a mountain as a shepherd. One day, he escaped and returned to Britain where he studied Christianity for many years. He later returned to Ireland to teach the small island about Christianity and spread the word of the Holy Trinity.
2. He is widely believed to have gotten rid of all the snakes from Ireland.
3. Though now associated with the colour green, St. Patrick’s colour actually used to be blue.
4. Until 1970, as it was declared a public holiday, no pub was allowed to open in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day.
5. In 1903, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in Ireland.
6. It’s St. Paddy’s Day not St. Patty’s Day. Patty is a girl’s name. And the name of a hamburger. And something you would get decked for if you called a guy it in Ireland.
7. March 17th is the day of his death, not birth.
8. It was St. Patrick who granted permission to St. Brigid to allow women to propose to men on Feb 29th.
9. Other than also being Irish, leprechauns have nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. There is, however, a museum dedicated to them in Dublin.
10. Despite many depictions to the contrary, the four-leaf clover also has nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick used the shamrock, with its three leaves, to explain the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland and thus making it a constant symbol of Ireland.
11. The shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world happens in Dripsey, Co. Cork and travels between two of the town’s pubs.
Step 3: Discover UPS is on the way to your home with your gifts. YAY!
Step 4: Return home from work to find NO UPS tag on door.
Step 5: Log into UPS and discover someone REFUSED your package. At your home. While you were at work.
Step 6: UPS reschedule delivery to your home against their protocol and without you calling them.
Step 7: 24 hours later discover your item has been damaged, then refused by someone at your home while you weren’t there, then the damaged parts discarded, then the rest mailed back to the sender and an investigation opened.
Step 8: Call UPS while hungry, tired, in period pain, lacking vodka and bananas and feeling ill from too many gummy bears.
Step 9: Call UPS to apologise for behavior and swear you are not usually like that.
Step 10: Discover sender is closed for the weekend and has DISCONTINUED the items you ordered so you can’t reorder them…EVER…Go drinking on 17th Ave with visiting friend. THIS STEP IS ESSENTIAL.
Step 11: Opt not to call – as it didn’t work out with UPS – and instead send nicely worded email to sender to explain UPS issue ending email with ‘Although this does not reflect on my feelings towards your company nor will it have an impact on me ordering from you in the future, it will, however, lead me to never use UPS for personal use. I expect my refund in full within a business day.’
Step 12: Receive full refund and apology 24 hours later. Celebrate by beginning Step 1 again.
I recently came across an article on the dangers of wearing skinny jeans while perusing the People.com website. I’m obsessed with that website. I know way more about the Kardashians than one should having never watched their show. The Canadian One has watched more of their reality show than I have.
Me, reading People.com: “Oh, Kim Kardashian is pregant again.”
Him, nonchalantly: “Oh, she was getting fertility treatment in the episode I saw. It must have worked.”
I should point out he was on a plane at the time and it was the best of bad TV options. Apparently.
Now, I am not avid skinny jean wearer. I am more of a dress-wearing girl all year round. Snowing? Lemme just grab an extra pair of tights for the journey. I have dresses for work, dresses for nights out, dresses for fancy events, dresses for casual events, dresses designated for doing housework in, beach dresses, this-dress-can-withstand-any-washing-machine-at-any-temperature dresses and dresses that can go from day to night in a flash.
I do own two pairs though. A pair of black and a pair of grey. But I find them constricting. I wriggle into them. I do the skinny jean dance to get out of them. A piece of penne can cause waistband issues for hours. And as for a first date outfit…or a third date outfit depending on your…eh, view of what’s appropriate on first dates, it’s a no-go. It’s taken me ten minutes, no lie, to think of a way to word that sentence in a PC way that won’t trigger emails. I have a friend who would purposely not shave her legs on a first date so she wouldn’t be ‘tempted’. This later turned out to be not such a foolproof plan when she bought a razor from a 24hr 7-11 and shaved her legs in the bathroom of a bar with the help of another friend.
The article on People.com did entice me however, not to look into whether or not a pair of skinny jeans could potentially damage your health, but how this small one-off event of the woman helping a family member move and suddenly found herself the subject of a skinny jean study, was covered by the mainstream media. You know how you sometimes read something on the Internet and then suddenly need to know every single thing about it, then 6 hours go by and you look up and wonder why it’s dark outside?
It was like that.
It took all of 1.7 seconds to locate my answer in a stream of panic-inducing headlines.
First on the list was Business Insider with a report on a June 22nd 2015 study by the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry titled “Fashion victim: rhabdomyolysis and bilateral peroneal and tibial neuropathies as a result of squatting in ‘skinny jeans,’”…no, seriously, that was the title of the study.
The article mainly recounts how the woman, while both wearing skinny jeans and squatting while emptying cupboards, began to feel pain and discomfort in her legs which turned out to be nerve and muscle damage in her calves caused by the skinny jeans. She couldn’t walk and crawled to a cab and landed herself in hospital. She’s fine now. The study did, however, mention it may not have been the skinny jeans but the squatting that caused the problem. I’m not a scientist, but I guess with a study sample of one it can be hard to come up with any definites.
ABC News had Dr. Thomas Kimber of the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia, who does not wear skinny jeans himself ( – it states this in the article) quoted as saying, “I think it’s the non-stretchy nature of jeans that might be the problem.”
The BBC went with: ‘Skinny jeans and other hidden health risks in your wardrobe’
In case you’re wondering, the other ‘health risks’ the BBC outs in the article include heels, zip flies – which resulted in 17,616 genital injuries between 2002 and 2010 in the US – tight shirts, earrings, g-strings, and tight underwear, which they state can cause heartburn and acid reflux…I wanna read the study on that.
Can we go back to 17,616 people injuring themselves with zip flies for a second? Zip. Flies. From jeans in general. Not just skinny jeans.
Seventeen thousand six hundred and sixteen people.
The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, Yahoo, CBC, CNBC, NBCNews, The National Post, Live Science, CTV, The Today Show, they all had something to say to add to the panic.
Over at Gizmodo, they went with the very definitive ‘Skinny Jeans Are Bad For Your Health’ headline while Medical News Today had ‘Skinny Jeans Cause Health Problems For Men’ as their article header and CBS had ‘Warning: Tight pants, skinny jeans and Spanx may be hazardous to your health’.
What’s the difference in those last three articles you may wonder? Well, those three articles were published way back in 2012. CBS’s made mention of the heartburn and food digestion problems and Gizmondo’s focused on women suffering lower legs pain while Medical News Today talked about men with UTIs, low sperm counts and, good God this sounds horrible, twisted testicles. 1 in 5 men have experienced a twisted testicle due to skinny jeans wear.
I don’t know, I feel like men have it worse in the jeans-injury department than women. Penises in zippers and twisted testicles…
1 IN 5!
Turns out the dangers of wearing skinny jeans have been around long enough for hipsters to consider adopting a different form of fashion statement. (I’m kidding, Hipsters, I’m kidding. No emails.)
It was when I came across the UK’s National Health Service website that I found my favorite article about the whole event however. Their article reads like your rational BFF sitting you down and telling you ‘The guy you’re dating is an idiot, look at the signs and dump his ass’, imagining, of course, your BFF is the NHS and your boyfriend is skinny jeans articles.
The NHS helpfully points out that the ensuing media frenzy regarding the dangers of skinny jeans have all been started by the ONE Australia patient who suffered leg pain while emptying cupboards, an injury that may not have even been caused by the skinny jeans. They also pointed out that the only reason most media outlets covered the story was because it gave them an excuse to publish lots of pictures of skinny jean wearing celebrities.
I went back to the original People article that kicked off my distracting Googling of ‘skinny jeans danger’ to see if this was true and sure enough, the first thing that popped up was a picture of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in her skinny jeans.
What a waste of several hours of my life. All that time I spent reading medical articles about nerve damage and bladder problems when I could have been reading something much more newsworthy, like Scott Disick falling off the wagon and speculation about Cameron Diaz possibly, maybe, at some point in the future but not now, having a baby. You know, the important things in life.
And although I may have nothing to do with it, I’m taking the credit. Some of the credit. Just a teeny bit. Also, I’m entirely positive both my friends and The Canadian One are happy my tirade against 7-11 and their math ability is over and we can move onto more pressing issues. Like what the hell was with all the ginormous hail today? No, seriously, it was nuts.
And I’ve only ever experienced any kind of direct, to-my-face discrimination because I am Irish twice.
And it was in Korea.
And it was from another Irish person.
Well, two, in fact. It happened twice on separate, years apart occasions. It was because I am from Dublin and they were from Northern Ireland. They didn’t like that and once it was discovered, the people in question promptly ignored me completely. I found it highly odd.
So here’s the thing, I’ve been sent / involved in offline conversation / watched my newsfeed fill up with this particular article that came out over a week ago now and have been waiting and watching the ‘wow, that escalated quickly’ nature of Internet threads with sad bemusement. If you don’t want to click the link, let me sum it up for you. Irish girl Katie Mulrennan applies for job in South Korea. Recruiter responds with ‘I am sorry to inform you that my client does not hire Irish people due to the alcoholism nature of your kind’.
A short time later, a story appeared in the Korea Observer about Sean Jones (who clearly skimmed over the first rule of resume writing being have a professional email address…) and his recent run in with racism in Korea. Jones was on the way to a job interview when he received a text that said ‘Sorry, they just told me they actually want a white teacher’ and then two days later, received a Facebook message that said ‘I’m sorry. I just found out today my school is one of ones [sic] that won’t hire black people’.
Now, I’m a white Irish girl who lived in South Korea for five years and The Canadian One worked as an in-country liaison between Korean schools and American recruiters of ESL teachers for part of that time so I’m very familiar with the ins and outs of people Koreans will or will not hire for schools. It makes sense people would bring both articles to my attention and expect comment. But I, for the most part, stayed out of it.
Looking at the second article though, over the years I’ve had non-white friends apply for jobs in Korea and ask me what I think their chances are. It’s a hard situation to be in because I know, no matter how qualified you are, the sad fact is more often than not it comes down to what you look like. It’s not right. It’s not fair. But it happens. And I’ve seen it over and over and over again.
I’ve been declined for jobs in Korea for one main reason, my Irish accent, which is non-existent as I worked hard on Americanising my accent to make sure I got jobs. I started putting in my cover email to recruiters that I have a neutral accent and they should call me before rejecting me. Most, however, just write back that they are looking for an American. Equally, I’ve been offered jobs in Korea for a wide array of reasons ranging from my Irish accent, (again, non-existent), my British accent (I don’t have a British accent), the fact that they think I’m British, I’m white, I’m ‘pretty’, I’m not a vegetarian (that was VERY important to one school) and that I’m a girl.
The weirdest reason I ever got a job though was because of Enya, an Irish singer…
I later quit that job in the middle of the contract as I started to slowly come to the realisation that my director was just a teeny bit crazy, had no money and we were pretty sure he was going to just stop paying us at some point. Afterwards he sent me several emails, including a goodbye email:
His name was the next thing on the email. And that was it. When he’d picked me up from the airport six months earlier, we had listened to his Enya CDs in the car all the way to Incheon.
After that, I got a job in Cheonan and then later moved to Seoul. Three years later, the school I was at was shutting down and I was on the job hunt again. I interviewed with a recruiter on a Thursday, was offered the job on the Sunday, and asked to come meet the school on the Tuesday at 3pm. I worked 1:30-5:50pm, so this was not going to be a possibility and it’s a situation I’d never come across before where the school is not accommodating to a teacher’s schedule. I made it clear I could go to the meeting if it was arranged before 12pm. I was starting to get the sense of the dramatics from the recruiter, who would be in charge of my visa, contract and pay for the time I was dealing with the school so it was important I got along well with him.
Our texts went like this:
There were phone calls. There were emails. And finally, my school confirmed I had the day off and I could go to the meeting at 3pm.
Then I get this:
An unpublishable swear word comes to mind.
And look at the time of that message…
While all this was happening, my current manager was arranging to get me a Letter of Release to transfer my visa to a new school. She wasn’t delaying giving me my letter, she’d told me the date she’d give it to me and I had agreed to it.
The recruiter wanted it earlier, even though I was due to get it Wednesday and my immigration meeting was set for Friday.
He insisted on calling her…which he did. She then promptly called me and told me he was nuts. Even in Korean, he was nuts, dispelling my reasoning that maybe my suspicion of his behavior was a lost in translation problem. She liked me and didn’t trust him and made that very clear.
Despite this, I met with him and the school to sign the contract and then decided to rescind my acceptance of the job offer, mainly due the my distrust of the recruiter and the fact that he couldn’t tell me much about the job and had ‘forgotten’ my contract on the Wednesday contract signing meeting (before the Monday start date) and could only show me a ‘sample contract’.
Our later correspondence after I declined the offer confirmed my suspicions that I didn’t want to work for him:
Again…the times of these messages…
With three days left on my current contract and facing certain unemployment and risking my visa status, The Canadian One and I started to come up with contingency plans. Would I go home? What about my Canadian visa application? It hadn’t been approved yet. Would leaving Korea jeopardise it? At around 10pm that same night, my manager called me saying that his friend had recently had a teacher leave suddenly and that she needed a teacher starting Monday. Needing a job, I gathered my documents and applied before 11pm. My phone rang 20 minutes later. It was the school inviting me to come in the following morning (Thursday) for a meeting.
I went to the interview – and was told I look ‘better in person’ than in my resume photo (!) – explained what was happening with my job status, met the principal, got the job, went to my immigration meeting on Friday, changed over my visa and started on the Monday.
On my first day, the school told me they discovered the teacher had a criminal record and he was fired, which is unusual as you need a criminal record check to get a visa to get to Korea in the first place but I accepted it as an answer and moved on.
I later found out the parents were told the teacher only worked there for two weeks before leaving for a family emergency.
Curious, I asked the kids about their previous teacher.
They told me he was black.
Going back to the school’s response to Mulrennen, it was a bad choice of words and reason, no doubt, but as I read the BBC article I began to remember something that happened four years ago.
With every job application in Korea, you apply with a resume and a photo. I usually used a standard passport-sized photo of me smiling which was rendered unusable as an actual passport photo.
But I went to a job interview once and found the school had a completely different picture of me than the one I’d sent the recruiter. It began to slowly dawn on me that the recruiter had trawled through my Facebook photos – back when my privacy settings weren’t as high – and picked the one she thought best represented me and sent it to the school.
She’d chosen this one:
The photo was taken when I went on a wine train trip where you go on a train through the Korean countryside to a vineyard and have a tour. It’s awesome. I recommend it. You taste test wine all the way there, while there and then all the way back. When I got on the train, I was operating on almost zero sleep – having stayed out until 4am doing shots with a friend at a local bar – was very quickly drunk again after the wine tasting breakfast on the way TO the vineyard. Once off the train, I pounced at the chance to take the photo that would later be included in my resume package to the school by my recruiter.
I was offered the job but declined it.
On a side note: I was supposed to go to a music gig in Seoul later that night but didn’t make it due to extreme wine consumption. This was November 2010 and it was my friend’s band playing. It would have marked the first time I met their much-heard-about-but-never-actually-met-yet guitar player but alas, it was not meant to be and it would be another month before we were to met for the first time, fall in love, move to Canada and get engaged.
I read an article today – 8 Things I’ve Learned About Cooking Without Gluten, Dairy, Nuts and Sugar – and I totally related to the author when she said ‘The funny thing is that friends and family seemed more sad about my new diet it than I did!’. Personally, I find, more often than not, the one question I’m asked when I tell people I can’t have dairy, soy, sesame or some preservatives in meat and The Canadian One has diabetes is: ‘So, wait, what do CAN you guys eat?’, like they imagine us sitting around eating salad all day with a balsamic dressing. I think people forget that I know how to cook!
For example ,today we had Steak Fajitas with Homemade Salsa. They were so-so, the fajitas not the salsa. The salsa was nice. I was trying out a new fajita recipe and it didn’t enthrall me. I won’t be making it again. Yesterday, we had Soy-free, Sugar-free Beef Teriyaki with Basmati Rice which The Canadian One SWEARS tasted like seolleongtang! I’m skeptical. Oh seolleongtang how I miss you…A LOT…Although I just bought Maangchi‘s Korean cooking books so I’m hoping her recipe is good. Apparently her Soegogi-muguk is good and looks crazy simple! If you wanna learn to cook easy Korean food check out her website!
Tomorrow we shall be eating Shepherd’s Pie and later in the week, we have Beef and Lentil Tacos and some Irish Stew coming up. Irish Stew is basically just to use up all the leftover vegetables we have before we move on Saturday but still! Speaking of moving, my God, I never realised how much stuff we had until we had to cram it into small boxes. I mean, we’ve only lived in Canada for 18 months, how did we amass so much stuff in such a short period of time?!
Back to the dietary needs, I feel it makes people awkward. They don’t know what to feed me. But the thing is, I don’t feel left out of things. Ever. OK, yes, I once brought my own mayo to a friend’s house back when I was banned from eggs and my own bun to a BBQ but that’s the extent to which this has affected me. I just avoid things like free food days at work or if there is free food, I claim it and then give it away to someone else. But then again, a wonderful manager at work made me a soy-free, dairy-free cake for my going away last day of work last Friday (words cannot express how awesome a: having cake was and b: this cake was!) and whenever we got pizza, my team’s fantastic manager would get me a tiny no-cheese vegetarian just for me. No sharing! It was great. At Thanksgiving this year I had my own separate mashed potatoes and butterless green beans and it wasn’t a big deal. I also had Smirnoff Raspberry Ice Vodka with Moonshine Cherries, just to throw that in there too.
Now, I always bring my own snacks wherever we go – movie theater, trips, friends houses – and most of the time, if I don’t trust a menu of a place, I’ll go with fries! Ah, potatoes, the food of my people. I buy fries so often in the cafeteria, the cashier just now says ‘Small fries?’ whenever she sees me. That’s all I ever get, despite the many many other delicious looking things on the menu.
Has my cooking style changed? Yes.
Do people look sad when I tell them I can’t have many foods? Yes.
Do people get confused and look at me with a sad when I tell them what I can’t eat? Oh yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Though that’s mainly when I tell them I can’t have chocolate.
Has it changed my life? YES! Yes, of course it has! I’m no longer spending my evenings curled up in a little ball hugging my hot bottle telling people I’m never eating again. I’ve gained back the 5kg I lost earlier this year during tests – discussed here – and am maintaining a healthier looking weight. I’ve slowly reintroduced breakfast into my diet and have begun to eat oats again, having FOR YEARS thought I was intolerant to oats but it turned out to be the milk with the oats that was the problem.
And beside, another thing I think people forget is, it could be worse, I could be allergic to vodka.
Here’s the thing about being a pedestrian in Calgary, it takes forever to get anywhere. For example, I had a physiotherapy appointment on Fridays after work and while it would only take 13 minutes in a car to get there, it takes me a 15 minute walk, plus a 48 minute bus ride and then another 10 minute walk and so I had to leave work an hour early to make it on time. Now, that’s not to say Calgary doesn’t have a good transit system, it does, and you can get pretty much anywhere…although it may take a bus, a train, some walking and another bus, you will get there. Plus all of Calgary Transit workers are, without a doubt, lovely, but there gets to the point where you’re walking from the bus stop to IKEA along an unpaved road in the snow, uphill and you think, I’ve gotta learn how to drive.
The Canadian One and I don’t drive. He never learned and I have had lessons, owned a car and held the different learner’s permits in two different countries and yet still, I never got my full license.
And so we started.
We quickly obtained our learner’s permits (my third in a different country in 10 years, I feel like I’m collecting them!) and set about signing up to driving school. We started with our classroom lessons (surrounded by children who weren’t old enough to drink) back in February and then hit the road with spring-time positivity.
My first time out I almost hit a pedestrian. Like came-so-close-we-could-almost-say-I-did-hit-him. We were driving along and I stopped suddenly. ‘Suddenly’ as in I jammed on the brake, the car made a horrible eeeeeeeeeeeek sound and jolted to a stop. Thing flew off the back seat and landing with a thump on the floor. I looked up and there was the pedestrian, on the pedestrian crossing with the lights flashing, staring at me. He did not look happy, to say the least. And I, well, I was alive, he was alive, ok so I was stopped in the middle of a crossroads, my tires barely touching the white lines painted on the road but still, an achievement in not hitting the pedestrian.
I’m now obsessed with pedestrians. What are they doing? Where are they going? Even the ones just walking along the sidewalk with no intentions of crossing the road, I stare at them, their minds could change at any moment. Like the cars on the highway that don’t signal. What are they thinking?
Having been a pedestrian all my life, I’m used to cars not giving much of an indication of their intention. Take for example recently, when crossing the street on a red light, two cars from a perpendicular road took a fast left on their red light, almost running me over and when I jumped out of the way, I found a woman, on my side of the road, pulling up onto my pedestrian crossing and trying to do a lane change to the right lane by pulling forward and backing into the other lane in front of the car stopped before the pedestrian crossing. I walked back to my side of the road and waited for the next red light go around, I wanted no part in this madness as I felt there was a good chance I might actually be killed by one of these people.
But driving almost makes me miss being a pedestrian. Cars lane change, turn, cut in front all without signalling. They beep at me for going the correct speed on a highway even though I’m in a car with a giant STUDENT DRIVER sign on the top. There are a minute few who show patience and understanding toward me. They wait for me. They stop for me. They keep their distance from me and don’t panic me with their cutting across two lanes of traffic and appearing like magic in front of me. They slow to allow me to merge but of course, then I panic and wonder why they’re slowing and so I slow down too.
I can parallel park, but can’t turn into a parking lot space. I can drive in a straight line but slow when I have to change lanes. I stop for stop signs, yield signs, bunnies on the road, pedestrians half a mile away and expensive cars that look like they have stupid drivers in them. I can back out of a parking space like a pro but have trouble figuring out how to start the car. I can turn right but not left and it took me a full hour to stop turning into the wrong side of the road in my first lessons. It’s not my fault Canadians drive on the wrong side of the road!
The one thing I do like about driving in Canada though: automatic cars. Having learned in both Ireland and England in manual cars, and spent more time causing small traffic jams on tiny residential roads, the ability to just stop and go as you please is reason in itself to learn here. My mother still regales people with the story of how, when I was 23, I stalled the car so many times on our residential street with a plethora of cars building up behind us that in the end I just stopped the car, got out and she had to shuffle into the driver’s seat and take over.
I do miss my manual car a bit though. It was a white Opal Corsa I’d named Fleelo, after my inability to pronounce the word ‘phyllo’. My brother had a blue car called The Escape From Fleelo.
Fleelo was dented on both sides. Once from me misjudging the distance between the pillar in my mother’s driveway and the side of my car and the other was caused by my brother. He denies it. But there was a dent where there was no dent before. There was a blue streak of paint inside the dent. There was a white smattering of flakes sprinkled on the left back bumper of his car. I’m not a CSI expert but…well, you can guess where my thinking went.
I’d forgotten about my car when I moved to Korea, having given it to my mother to look after. She had, after all, driven it to England for me and then come back and got it and drove it back to Ireland after I decided to embark to the Land of the Morning Calm. I was walking home from the mall one day after my return to Ireland 4 years ago and saw Fleelo drive past me, an unfamiliar driver steering her wheels.
I walked into my mother’s house, demanding to know how Fleelo got into the hands of this person to be told she’d been sold to a guy down the road for 100 Euros. Shocked and saddened that Fleelo was gone, my mother couldn’t help but point out:
“You’ve been home for a week…didn’t you notice your car not here?”
No. No I did not.
Hopefully things go a little better with my second car!
Settle in, friends, this is a long story. Get yourself some snacks and wine. I’ll wait here.
Ok, so I can’t eat chocolate. I know! When I tell people that, they’re all ‘WTF’ and ‘OMG I’d die!’ but in reality, I’ve known this for eight years so I’m pretty over it by now. Struck down with debilitating migraines at 21, chocolate, mature cheese, red wine and pink wine were all axed from my diet, eventually after rounds and rounds of the ‘is could be this’ game. Slowly, I got over it. Declining red wine at parties, accepting then regifting boxes of chocolates from friends, carefully calculating how much chocolate I could tolerate (the tiniest amount), eating some (way more that I’m supposed to) and lying on the floor in pain holding a pillow over my face like I was practicing to suffocate myself (this actually doesn’t help a migraine).
And then came May 2014.
Ah, May, the month when pizza got taken away from me forever. And ice cream. And Starbucks Frappucchios. Less than a week after the Caramel Ribbon Crunch returned and Frappy Hour kicked off.
Here I am with my last ever Frappy less than twenty minutes after my diagnosis. You can’t see it, but there’s also a Buttermilk Blueberry Muffin there too.
You know, I feel like May was one of those months I’ll look back on a half a year down the road and think, ‘wait, what?!’
So I had this lactose intolerance test…no wait, lemme go back a bit because it’s important to understand why I was having this test.
All this stupidity kicked off 18 months ago, just after we moved here, when I started to get weird pains in my right abdomen. Nothing crazy. Just run-of-the-mill, oh-that’s-probably-just-period-pains…in my right side…when I’m not on my period…OK, fine, when I look back on it now it was perhaps not as not-weird as I initially thought and I shoulda really thought ‘appendix’ and not ‘right-sided period pain’. BUT I’d just spend five years living in Korea being ill Every. Single. Day. so this pain was a welcome break after a sea of cramping pain, nausea and diarrhea every single day. Did I mention it was every single day? They couldn’t figure it out in Korea. I had tests. And more tests. And blood tests. And an endoscopy. And took drugs. And more drugs. And antibiotics…for months at a time…and destroyed my immune system…and still, I didn’t get better. Until one day, 3 weeks into living in Canada, I realised I wasn’t sick every single day anymore. I was sick maybe one day. Out of 21. It was suggested it was soy and / or sesame causing my illness and eating a western diet I was just naturally avoiding these. I test this theory out, I had some soy sauce. Next day I got ill. Soy was eliminated from my diet. But yet I was still getting this weird side pain and random cramping/diarrhea every so often with no discernible reason.
So fast-forward a year later, May 2014, and I’ve had the pleasure of five abdominal ultrasounds, three pelvic ultrasounds (there’s a difference boys, Google it), a CT scan which really does make you feel like you’ve peed. Funny story, the male doctor who did my CT scan told me I had ‘women’s problems’ and needed to see a ‘women’s doctor’ without going into too much detail other than a scientific explanation as to how eggs are released from ovaries and then discharged me and sent me home. I was livid. I was more livid that I thought possible. A few weeks later I saw on the news my doctor’s house had sadly burned to the ground.
My friend wrote to me to ask if it was me.
It wasn’t. And no one died.
Following on from that, I’ve had too many blood tests to count (I have fantastically healthy blood apparently), a HIDA scan ( – where one is LITERALLY strapped down to a table unable to move while being injected with a radioactive tracer and put into a scanner machine for an hour…AN HOUR…), two colposcopies, a hysterosalpingography ( – it was so painful I don’t want to relive it by talking about it – I sweated through the hospital gown I was wearing it was so painful – although I’ll give credit to a girl at work who warned me to take the full day off and not attempt to come to work after), took pointless antibiotics, had an argument with a gynecologist who refused to do a laparoscopy for endometriosis despite it being the only reason I was referred to her in the first place. This was after a six month wait to actually see her. She referred me to the Regional Fertility Center to get the laparoscopy done ignoring the fact that I was showing zero fertility problems and back on a waiting list we went to see a doctor there.
I got misdiagnosed with IBS after one appointment with a family doctor and changed clinics, got jabbed in the butt with an injection (“This will hurt.” – my nurse), experienced morphine for the first time, had a lactose intolerance test, a celiac test, a test that involves the collection of…um, bodily waste…and putting it into a very small (WTF?!) tube…TWICE! It was so much worse that this. Honestly, you have no idea how ridiculous your life has gotten until you’re asked to collect poop that has not touched water and put it into a small tube…the first time I was all ‘is this something I really want in my Google history?’ and the second time I was all ‘I got this! Gimme the test tube’. And I thought that time in Korea when I had to stick a cotton swab up my butt was bad. And then finally it was all capped off with an eventual laparoscopy and some endometriosis removal by the fertility clinic. The Canadian One had some fun wheeling me around the hospital in a wheelchair after the surgery.
So, lemme get back to the lactose test. For weeks beforehand I’d maintained I was not, under any circumstances whatsoever, absolutely, positively NOT lactose intolerant and this test was a GIANT. WASTE. OF. MY. TIME. I told everyone. I told friends. I told Facebook. I had to get up early. I had to fast. I had to drink a stupid drink and get four blood tests and live at the blood clinic lab on a Saturday for three hours with all the other impatient, annoyed people. IT. WAS. POINTLESS.
Then the results came back.
I’m lactose intolerant.
First thought: ‘Pizza!’
First thing I said to my doctor: “But…pizza…”
I also have endometriosis but let’s not dwell on that, it’s the pizza thing that really hurt.
Now, I’ve realized when I tell people I’m lactose intolerant they think ‘oh, you can’t have milk’. No. No no. I can also not have cheese. Cheese. CHEESE. Cheese is on pizza.
I cannot have pizza.
Or Starbucks Frappucchinos. I mean I do realize that this is not really a problem in the grand scheme of things. The Canadian One is diabetic and gave up everything and eats lots of salad.
Although, looking back, May was also the month my friend discovered she has an extra rib in her body that’s been causing her an incredible amount of pain so in hindsight it could be…no, no, the pizza thing is so much worse.
I love pizza.
Now, since May, I’ve learned how to make my own pizza. Lactose free. With no cheese. The first time I had no cheese pizza, I didn’t get ill, I didn’t throw up (I’ve done that twice literally in pizza places, never put two and two together), it was glorious and it was the way forward.
Despite all this, none of these tests has actually solved the pain-in-right-side problem just the stomach cramping / illness side of things. I was still in pain. And lots of pain. I couldn’t walk properly, pick things up, carry heavy objects or stand for long periods of time without pain. It was causing stress, headaches and sleeplessness not to mention despair as no one could figure it out.
At my next doctor’s appointment in June, my doctor suddenly asked if I’d ever injured my back. I told her about moving to Canada, how I ended up in the hospital my second day in Ontario with back pain suspected to be kidney pain. I told her how I’d taken antibiotics. That sometimes my back hurts periodically but I’ve always been told by many doctors that it would go away and to wait. That ‘patience is the key’ and ‘here, take these Percocet’. Here I am my second day as a Canadian paying for healthcare as I was in the wrong province:
My family doctor suddenly had a theory and a friend who she thought could help me. I immediately left her office and called her friend who said she would see me 48 hours later. I turned up promptly at 5:30pm for my first meeting with my physiotherapist, a lovely, brilliant, funny Irish woman who’s so full of smiles and optimism you just want to kidnap her and take her home with you. After a 10 minute conversation and medical history, she announced she knew what was wrong and how to fix it. I must have looked skeptical because she went off and got a medical book and showed me diagrams of what happened to me and why I’m in pain. I almost cried.
When moving here, I’d torn and damaged the muscles in my back with the twisting and turning and carrying of heavy boxes (for weeks beforehand as we moved twice before we actually left Korea) and bags (as we moved here, with a stopover in Ontario) and it was all compounded by the fact that I sat at a desk all day and it was causing referred pain my lower right quadrant.
Within an hour of physio involving massage, electrotherapy and ultrasound therapy I felt a billion times better. Better than any of the painkillers, heat pads or muscle relaxants ever did. This little AMAZING Irish woman had found and solved my 14 month-long problem in less than two hours. Well, not solved, I still see her every two weeks and follow a strict daily physio regime, but we are on our way. And my pain? Ohhhh my pain. That spends its days either being non-existent or it comes along and I know exactly how to get rid of it in a timely manner. No more afraid to stand at concerts. No more oh-my-god-the-pain-is-so-bad-I-might-die days. None.
So, at this point, I bet you’re thinking, so where does the EpiPen come in?
August 4th, the Monday holiday in Canada, I was at work as I’d volunteered to do overtime in lieu of a day off and a day and a half’s pay – not a bad compromise for working one day. Things were going fine. We were a little busy but not overly so and I was working on some online courses I had on the go in my spare time. Lunch rolled round and I took my homemade lunch out to the couch to eat alone. I usually never eat alone but it was a holiday day and there was maybe twenty people in the building. My lunch was rice, tomatoes, white beans, sage, beef sausage from Safeway and onion. All food I’d have previously many times, except the sausage, which I’d only ever had once before. After the first two bites, I started sneezing uncontrollably. My eyes felt itchy and like they were on fire and my ears felt hot. I suddenly realised I was having trouble breathing. I was wheezing. I text The Canadian One to tell him what was happening and while waiting for his reply, I went to pee because 1. I needed to pee and 2. I was fairly certain this wasn’t going to end in anything other than a hospital trip and so I didn’t want to need to pee that whole time. As I left the bathroom, I got dizzy. Really really dizzy. And my breathing was slowing. I began to realise I might be dying. That this was it. I was going to die alone on the couch at work surrounded by strip lighting and my half eaten lunch and lonely fork. I called The Canadian One who told me to go find my supervisor as at this point I was struggling to talk. In hindsight, that’s what I should have done first before calling him but anyway…
I bolted back to my supervisor’s desk, flailing about in a panic, explained I was having an allergic reaction and was marched over to the manger on-duty’s desk. I sat, wheezing, not allowing them call 911 as I felt it was ‘too dramatic’ but as we were right next to a hospital, I agreed to being driven there by the manager. I was making weird wheezing noises but my throat had stopped closing at this point, although my nose was blocked and all puffed up at the back. I called The Canadian One who was with our vet neighbor and both got in the car and headed to the hospital to meet me.
An hour in the ER and, although I had yet to be seen by a doctor, I was feeling fine but couldn’t talk properly. I was diagnosed with an allergic reaction, (obviously) given two Benadryl (which knocked me out) and was told to follow-up with my family doctor.
Honestly, you should have seen her face when I went back and explained all this to her.
I would later be diagnosed with a mystery ‘preservative’ allergic, issued an EpiPen for safety and made see a dietitian as all my foods were being taken from me and I was running out of things to eat.
My Family Doc: “Do you know what an EpiPen is?”
Me: “Yes, I’ve seen the ads on TV.”
Doc: “Ah, yes, with the little girl.”
Me: “Yes…but I’m not allergic to anything. I’ve never been allergic to anything.”
Doc: “Yes, you are. You’re getting an EpiPen.”
And so I did. I got two.
For more information on food allergies or anaphylaxis, check out Anaphylaxis Canadaor Anaphylaxis Campaign UK. The Canadian site has the option to sign up for a Food Allergy Alert service oddly enough sponsored by where I work!
For more information on living dairy-free, check out Go Dairy Free for hints, tips and recipes. Also I recommendDaiya as a preferred cheese alternative, although it does take some getting used to and also almond milk for coffee is quite nice if you are also soy-free. My addiction to Veganaise soy-free ‘Mayo’ is outta control too. It really is so much better than mayo! And Earth Balance produce a really good line of vegan alternatives.
I originally started this day-by-day breakdown of my wisdom teeth removal and week of recovery because:
I wanted to give myself something to do that was still writing but didn’t require a lot of work as I was fairly certain I’d be on painkillers most of the week.
I found, when Googling about wisdom teeth removal prep and recovery, there wasn’t a lot of information other than ‘how to not get a dry socket’, horror stories and clinical prep of what to do and not to do. Oh and eat soft foods, like yogurt.
Because wisdom teeth removal can be terrifying and it’s not something one should Google. I know this. You know this and if you’re reading this and you’re about to get your wisdom teeth out, you already know this…but yet here you are…hello! I just wanted to explain to prep and recovery in an easy, non-scary, but very honest way.
Considering the last three days of my life (and bear in mind, I thought today was Wednesday for the majority of the day) were filled with lying around the house in bed, on the floor, on the couch (delete as appropriate) complaining about my toothache, stomachache, headache (again, delete as appropriate), today was, by comparison, filled with action and adventure! I left the house and went to Safeway. OK, so yes I did only make it as far as Safeway BUT I didn’t have my bus pass in my possession and I don’t have a car so really, there wasn’t too far I could go. And Safeway has a Starbucks. And ice-cream.
Having been awake last night until 1:30am eating bananas and reading Pinterest, I opted to take Tylenol Night as oppose to regular Tylenol in a bid to get more than 3 hours of sleep at a time. I’d never taken Tylenol Night before and had bought them months ago when they first came out and were on sale for $2 a bottle. I threw them in the medicine drawer and forgot about them until last night. I took two, went back to bed and suddenly it’s 11am. I awoke refreshed and painless and bouncy further proving a good night’ sleep solves everything. I needed to leave the house and do something. It was sunny. The snow was melting. The house wasn’t too cold. I allowed Louie experience snow for the first time:
Then he got stuck and upset so I built him a path in my pjs with a cooking spoon.
Then I made myself some mashed potatoes with lactose-free margarine, almond milk and garlic salt (I put that on everything) and gravy for breakfast, bid The New Roomie good luck on his job interview and text The Canadian One to tell him I was venturing out of the house and to ask his opinion on my Starbucks order.
I had a barista at Starbucks get confused last week by the fact that I didn’t want milk in my iced coffee but I did want two (not the three they usually put in) of caramel…it was a kerfuffle for him and another barista got involved after he tried to get me an iced coffee no milk two shots of espresso. Today, I was aiming for, while not being able to speak properly, ordering an iced coffee no milk with caramel in a hot white cup with lid as oppose to an ice drink cup due to the fact that I can’t have a straw. I puttered around the empty Starbucks counter nervous to approach in case I was greeted with a teenager who hates their job and has no time for me. BUT instead I got a lovely lady who not only apologised for not initially understanding me and then apologised for not having any iced coffee, made me a huge normal coffee with lots of ice (to make it cold – it worked), in a hot coffee cup with lid and caramel – no milk – charged me a small coffee price and gave me a discount.
My iced coffee and I wandered around Safeway unable to find almond milk for a while until The Canadian One text EXACTLY where it was in Safeway and I realised I send him to Safeway waaaaay too often.
As I walked home and began to feel the familiar cramping and start of my period (a week early) I realised the world was f*cking with me. Although a car tearing out of a church carpark like it was on fire, rounding a corner and almost knocking over a yellow tripod thingy in the middle of the road (no idea) and then rounding another corner and disappearing was momentarily distracting. As was my landlord’s son talking loudly in Greek on his cellphone in our lawn while hacking down trees with a small handsaw just as I arrived back.
Once home (and confirming, yes the world is f*cking with me, I wasn’t imagining it) I laid out all my loot for scanning.
We’re part of the Neilsen Homescan Consumer Panel Program. Honestly, I have no idea why I signed up, I think I just wanted to play with the scanner. But they did recently send me a $15 Neilsen pre-loaded Visa card in the mail…which I then lost…so I guess there was that. Anywoo, so as part of the program we use the little scanner…
…to scan the barcodes on everything we buy (everything) and the little scanner transmits it to Neilsen all by itself each Saturday as long as I remember to put it back on its little stand. I call him Scanny and I find him highly annoying when we shop anywhere other than Safeway as Safeway populates the price by itself. Nowhere else does and have you ever come home from a huge shopping trip at Walmart and had to scan everything one-by-one, find it on your receipt, punch in the price and then move on to the next item? No? Then you do not know how annoying this little thing is. And yet I do it. I have no idea why.
I did a little icecream eating – I would highly highly recommend Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss Vanilla Ice-cream Bars (no soy, no dairy, no gluten) – followed by some internet shopping at diabetesdepot.org and roasted some chicken legs for The Canadian One’s dinner, which turned out aweeeeesome. Well, they looked awesome. I had mashed potato and carrot soup for dinner but he swears it was lovely!
I modified a Bittman recipe for Roasted Chicken Parts from How To Cook Everything. I took two chicken legs with back attached (on sale at Walmart), cleaned ’em, patted ’em dry and plonked them on the cutting board. I preheated the oven to 450F, put a lump of lactose-free margarine (though you could and should use butter) into a roasting pan along with some chili flakes and placed it in the oven for 5 minutes. When I took the roasting pan out, the margarine was all melted and liquidy so I put the chicken into it, flipping it around to get it all covered in fake-butteriness. Then I placed it skin-side down (because I didn’t read the recipe correctly), sprinkled some cut up onion around it and whacked it all in the oven for 15 minutes. Then I took it out, sprinkled St-Laurent Steak Spice on it, flipped it skin-side up, and sprinkled Steak Spice all over the top of it too, patting it with the tongs a little to make sure it really stuck on there. Back in the oven it went for 10 minutes, then some basting, then 5 more minutes, more basting, then 5-10 more minutes until it was done. At this point, if you’re making it, stab it with a thermometer in the thickest part and if it reads 175F or more, it’s all good. Baste it again. Then serve.
Tomorrow, lemme tell about how I ended up owning an EpiPen and what it took to diagnose me as lactose intolerant. It’s the most ridiculous long-winded story I’ll probably ever tell you.
Come with wine.
For more information on my Wisdom Teeth Journey, check out:
I awoke this morning to the sound of a weird alarm going off for a split second. Deciding to go pee, as one does when they wake up at 6am all of a sudden, I putter to the bathroom in complete darkness. I flip the light switch. Nothing. I wander to the kitchen. Nothing. I look outside. No street lights. I open the fridge. Nothing. Dammit. The power is out. Completely.
I immediately think about the safety of my freezer meals. And then almost straight away got upset at the thought of their demise. I was tired, the painkillers I’d taken the night before had worn off and I was facing all my meals being destroyed. I grabbed my phone and did the thing I do whenever something major happens, I checked Twitter. It led me to the Enmax website which said they were aware our power went out around 4am and were working on it.
Which was unhelpful. But oddly comforting.
Then I took one look outside…
…And wisely I decided to stay in bed until the power came back on after having a mushed banana and honey and two painkillers for breakfast. Our landlord has yet to turn on the heat in our apartment – even though it’s -7 outside and she has a legal responsibility to ensure her apartments stay 22c or above at all times – so I resorted to two blankets in lieu of the space heater not working. Louie and I snuggled in bed reading old copies of magazines and trying not to play on Pinterest
Although we did do a little Tweeting too:
My friend sent me a picture of a weather warning for Calgary to cheer me up:
Incidentally on Twitter, #yycsnomg is in full effect!
Around noon, The Canadian One text to say he wasn’t coming home from work as his power had just come on and as he was telling me, OUR power miraculously came back on! I rushed to the freezer to check on my food and everything was still rock solid. The New Roomie celebrated with some coffee making while I jumped in the shower to wash my hair, FINALLY!
With the freezer food out of danger, I turned my attention to my teeth. Though the pain has lessened significantly (although I still can’t open my mouth too wide) the taste and weird smell is still there. Another quick look with a flashlight revealed a whiteish yellow coating covering the wounds. I panicked. My mind immediately jumped to infection, dry socket, pain, death. I jump to extremes a lot.
I padded about the house thinking about my teeth. I consulted The New Roomie, The Canadian One, my mother, the Internet and eventually got around to calling my dentist who told me it was completely normal and it meant the wounds were healing correctly. Having calmed down, I opted for some coffee and soup. Once I turned on the heater, Louie immediately abandoned me.
Just a note about the Red Lentil Curry Soup, if you’re eating it during wisdom tooth extraction, you want to blend it well until smooth and creamy so no lentils get stuck in your extraction holes. The Potato Soupis working out well too but if you freeze it and defrost it, you want to add a little water when reheating and blend it one more time before eating it. Always make sure you eat them lukewarm during wisdom tooth healing.
Finding it getting colder and colder and I made a quick call to my landlord – after two texts went ignored – and she answered on the second ring. We talked a bit about how she is, how I am, how I just got my wisdom teeth out and subsequently how painful it is until she paused and finally said ‘WHO IS THIS?!!’…After literally giving her my address and explaining I wanted her to turn on the heat, she agreed.
I’m still waiting.
This is me waiting:
I’ve been keeping my tongue like that because when my mouth is fully closed, the swelling touches the top gums and teeth and hurts so my tongue is playing barrier. And my face! Look at my face!…It’s squirrelling! But isn’t my hat awesome? I love my hat.
In times like these frozen oat baggies are your friend.
To make an oat bag simply cut two pieces of material 7inx7in each. Pin together pattern side down and sew around the edges. If using a sewing machine, you’re all good. If hand sewing, you may want to sew over it twice. Nobody likes an oat bag that pops open…spilling oats all over the place…especially The Canadian One…for example. Leave a small opening at the top to pour in your oats. You want to fill the back maybe just over half full with oats. Half full plus half a cup let’s say and then seal it. Shake it about, make sure it doesn’t leak oats, and then either pop it in the freezer or pop it in the microwave. Freezer is pretty self-explanatory. It takes about an hour to get cold. For the microwave, the first time you do it, you want to put it in for 30 seconds, then check it. Then maybe another 20 seconds, then check it. Max 60 seconds altogether or else the oats will burn. Each time you use it, it will retain more and more heat so the first few times it may get colder quicker but then it will start to remain hotter for longer. BE CAREFUL. It can get pretty hot. Consider yourself warned. Never give hot packs to babies while they are super hot, I would recommend a 30 second microwave stint for a small child…or pet…Louie LOVES the heat pack. LOVES. IT. I only ever let him near it while it’s lukewarm though. He’s not too bright and will burn himself. I use the heat pads mainly during my period. They’re like magic. So much better than Google’s advice of ‘time’, remember that?!
Eating lots of jelly. I know, I know, you people call it Jell-O but my mother sends it from Ireland so it’s jelly. And it’s glorious.
Finally getting to take a shower.
Watching the last 5 episodes of season 5 of White Collar. Notes: A: Neal reads Danielle Steel books?! And B: OMG what’s gonna happen him?!!!
Things I Failed At Today:
Stopping the pain.
Taking my painkillers on time. The battery-powered clock stopped. Yes, you read that correctly. In the power cut, the BATTERY-POWERED clock stopped. I just…there are no words….
Leaving the house. It’s -7. Maybe tomorrow.
Getting the landlord to turn on the heat.
In other, unrelated news, a website called DailyPotatoNews has liked some of my previous posts. Their mascot is a potato. A happy smiley potato. Remember when I became obsessed with the dancing potato? It’s a bit like that. Too Irish?
Well…onto the next day…
For more information on my Wisdom Teeth Journey, check out:
A few months ago, after eating in a local restaurant by my house, I awoke in the middle of the night with crippling stomach pains. For next 12 hours, I would intermittently lie on the bed and the floor flat on my back barely breathing due to the pain and then several times an hour rushing to the bathroom to throw up and / or poop blood. Just blood. Nothin’ but blood. I eventually got it together enough to go to the hospital who pumped me full of medication, including Morphine, and it was only at about 3pm I realised I should call my manager at work to let her know I wasn’t coming in…I text my friend instead and got her to tell her, I didn’t trust myself not to say something stupid on the phone.
THIS pain, today, has been worse.
I woke up at 3:29am and was wide awake in zero pain and spent my morning playing with the cat and reading Next Issue.
At around 5am, I napped a bit and at 6am, I took more painkillers. I hung out in bed reading and looking at wedding invitation templates for a while (and emailing them to The Canadian One) and eventually got up at 11am, in a bid to have some soup. And threw up.