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.
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! 🙂
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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:
Welcome to Flashback Friday: A look back at some of the most popular posts in the archive
This Quote Friday from June 15th 2012 (original link) proved to be one of the most read Quote Friday’s on the entire site:
For anyone who wasn’t following Quote Friday, it was a weekly round-up of the funniest things my elementary school students said to me that week. They were all aged 6-12 and were in my English class in South Korea.
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.
I grew up in a piano-playing household. Primarily due to the fact that my mother is a piano teacher and my brother and I were always surrounded by a piano, sheet music and pupils who struggled to play their scales. Each year we would be bombarded with differing renditions of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and ‘Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’, all played at different speeds, some in a stop-start jingle and some with so many wrong notes, I’d sit in my bedroom thinking ‘Is that Rudolf they’re trying to play or some unknown Christmas tune I’m about to be introduced to…Nope, no, it’s Rudolf.’
There was one memorable year when I returned home to visit during exam time and all the students seemed to be studying ‘My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean’…I still can’t listen to that song without shuddering. Hours after hours of listening to kids play it over and over again. I feel like I could play it through sheer osmosis.
My mother taught us how to read sheet music as children. I learned the right hand and some of the left and mastered most of the nursery rhymes before I quit. My brother, however, went on to absorb music as an exponential rate. He could read a piece, play it, read it, play it, have it memorised. Whenever I would return to Ireland to visit, he would play me the most recent pieces he learned plus some oldies I liked too. He moved onto a ragtime phase where a favorites of mine came to include almost anything by Scott Joplin. He doesn’t play much anymore, preferring to focus on art and woodwork but I have never, in all my life, never ever wanted to force him to learn a piece and play it via Skype to me so badly:
For those of you who have never heard the Mario theme tune, (honestly, I’m surprise you know what the Internet is, but anyway), here it is:
My obsession with Mario dates back to my owning a N64 and every Mario game (and yes, Goldeneye) that was released. Now, we own a WII and the obsession continues with Mario Kart. This month at work we’re even having a Mario-themed staff incentive program running…no, seriously. I spent an entire day cutting out those tiny Mario flowers, Bowser, bananas (I hate them) and shells. Lest we forgot, I still work at a bank.
Mario has dotted my life in random unexpected places here and there as an adult. I once found myself dancing to a disco version of the song at a basement nightclub in Seoul with The Canadian One. My friend and I once stayed at a hostel in South Korea and one of the girls sharing our room had gone out for the night, while my friend and I stayed in. The girl’s phone kept alerting her to a text every so often with a ring that reminded us of ‘It’s a Mario!’…We spent the rest of the trip saying ‘It’s a Mario!’ over and over again each time her phone went off. We were beyond annoying. Now and then, I’d find myself humming the Mario theme tune at work, much to the amusement of my 10 year students who would break into song with me occasionally, surprised I, a 26-year-old teacher, would know who Mario is.
I mean, please, I know no one (NO ONE) my age who does not know who Mario is. NO ONE.
NOW, all I gotta do is find someone who can play the piano, is almost my age and who I can convince to learn to play this piece for me…
This time last year, The Canadian One and I had been in Toronto for about a week and he was still trying to convince me that Canadians did not call it T-Dot. We were embarking on a trip into the city to see Frightened Rabbit, a Scottish band we both really like, play in a dark bar in a shady area. The Canadian One thought we’d be kidnapped on the walk from the venue to the bar later that night and we spent a good forty-five minutes wandering around looking for a pre-gig place to eat. We settled on a basement bar for fries and cheeseburgers and I wallowed in the fact that having hated my Tim Horton’s earlier in the day, I would never adapt to Canadian culture.
Now, the coincidence of going to see Frightened Rabbit on Easter ‘Bunny’ Sunday didn’t escape me, or my mother who thought it was hilarious, although they did put on an awesome show (the first of two of their shows I would see in 2013). One memorable moment being when the lead singer messed up the words to a song and then just flat out stopped and said “I’m sorry, I’m distracted by a girl in bunny ears at the back just not paying attention to the show…oh wait…no…wait, no she’s working. Sorry!”
Last week, we went over to our neighbor’s (also The Canadian One’s childhood friend and our vet) house for some friendly board game / drinking action. About three hours in, our neighbor’s cat, Barfi (Persian for Snowy) emerged from his hiding spot under the couch. With the declaration of ‘Oh, Barfi’ from our host, The Canadian One lept up, pointed at the cat and said ‘BARFI!’ thus putting him in a solid 4-0 lead in our made-up summer game.
Barfi, incidentally, is one of the most beautiful cats I’ve ever seen. I mean, look at him!
Isn’t he gorgeous?! Here he is with The Canadian One while we were cat-sitting while The Canadian One tries to prove to me his moniker should be changed to The Cat Whisperer.
And here’s Barfi helping get ready for the Stampede in April 2013. A little early, but meh.
So, here’s what happened: Last summer, Barfi made a bolt for freedom and we were tasked with helping find him. We wandered. We ran. We shook packets of Temptations and called his name. We asked neighbors. We asked passers-by. One of us, dressed in a hoodie and skirt standing as tall as the average teenager, joined a search-party group of teens and accidentally caused another neighbor to retreat from her porch, shut her door, lock it and turn off the lights. Oops.
The Canadian One and I worked as a duo and several times I spotted what looked like a white furred creature in the bushes which would always ALWAYS turn out to be a bunny.
It’s hard. In Ireland we don’t have bunnies just wandering around doing their bunny stuff thinking ‘I ain’t no pet’ but here they are everywhere!
And thus began ‘Bunny versus Barfi’, whereby the spotting of a bunny while The Canadian One and I were together and being the first to yell ‘BUNNY!’ would garner the yeller one point whereas the spotting of Barfi would earn you three points. We ended 2013 with me far far faaaar in the lead and so this year The Canadian One has come back fighting and is already ahead with four points but fear not my little Ketchups, I will win this year as I did last year!
Incidentally, I spotted the never-before-seen-mythical-trio of bunnies…a TRIO…a month ago but alas, as The Canadian One and I weren’t together I can’t claim it.
Yells of ‘DOESN’T COUNT!’, ‘THAT’S NOT A BUNNY! MINUS A POINT!!’ (mainly because I thought both a small dog and a small gnome-like garden ornament of a bunny were both really bunnies) and ‘BUNNY!!!’ became commonplace around our house last summer and now this year, the ante has been upped and the game is ON with The Canadian One wanted to reclaim the title and me wanting to keep the title of ‘Awesome Bunny-Spotter’. Keep up with the current score at the top on the right of your screen.
I. WILL. WIN. 2014.
Have you and your friends ever come up with a stupid game to play? Lemme hear about it below so I know The Canadian One and I aren’t the only ones in the world playing a highly competitive, bunny spotting game!
(Oh and Barfu was found and returned safe and sound a week after he went missing!)
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! It’s genius. This and the dancing potato. I have no idea why I find the dancing potato so funny. I almost cried with laughter. The Canadian One is convinced there’s something wrong with me!
So, on Monday, I’m outside work waiting at the bus stop. It’s about 6:15pm and it’s a little chilly but I opt not to go into the little glass bus hut.
During a discussion on the phone with The Canadian One regarding what we were having for dinner (a Betty Crocker Home-Made Beef, Zucchini and Cheddar Pie with Salad in case you’re interested), I say:
“I think I see a wolf. Or a big dog. But it kinda looks like a wolf.”
The Canadian One reacts the way one would when his fiancée says she sees a wolf and you’re 99.99% sure it’s just a dog. He doesn’t react. I tell him to heat the oven to 350 degrees and I hang up the phone to await the bus.
Having forgotten my headphones and my book, I had nothing to do but stare into the abyss, i.e. the car park of my building. I slowly start to realise the ‘wolf’ is zigzagging his way through the stationary cars in the car park. It’s looking more and more ‘wolfy’ as it stalks it’s way down the pathway of snow. A security guard appears at the doorway of my building in an orange reflector jacket, too far for me to make out what he’s doing but not too far away for me to come to the conclusion that he was doing nothing. Nothing at all. Not a Goddamn thing.
There was a wolf in the car park.
A. Mother. Fu…
You know what, I’m gonna let that go. Moving on.
So, I’m standing there in my giant winter jacket staring at this wolf. I’m across the street. I think, it’s not going to cross the car park, cross a busy street and attack me….until it starts to cross the car park and cross the busy street.
At this point, there’s one other pedestrian on the pavement far ahead and me, standing at a bus stop, next to a glass, enclosed shelter with an open door. It occurred to me briefly to enter the shelter…then it occurred to me the wolf could also come join me in the glass hut in which case, I’d have no escape.
Glass hut out.
Doesn’t running agitate wolves?
Didn’t I read that somewhere?
Or possibly seen it in Twilight? Which is, incidentally, the only reason I know what a wolf looks like.
Running was out.
Definitely moving from the bus stop. Walking fast it is.
I started walking with the intention of making it to a nearby bookstore for safety.
I walked. Wolfy followed.
I walked faster and Wolfy was across the street, stalking me on my side of the road.
I walked so fast one could almost call it a ‘small run’, fast enough to escape a wolf but not fast enough that it would realise you were running and chase you. And then eat you. Which is what I was fast becoming convinced would happen to me.
This is it. This is how I die. Eaten outside a Chapters by a rogue wolf.
I came to a stop light and had a decision to make. There was a car and a truck on the opposite side of the road making a right turn. Do I cross or do I stop?
Hit by truck or eaten by wolf?
I was not enjoying how my Monday was progressing so far.
Luckily, as I my foot hit the road and off the pavement, the light turned in my favor and the truck (not the car, mind you) stopped and I ran across the road while Wolfy veered into a bush. I panted my way to the bus stop, hailed the oncoming bus and hopped on. Five seconds between road decision and seat on the bus, not bad.
12 minutes later I receive a text from a friend who’d left work an hour before me:
‘Did u leave yet! I left and there was a wolf outside.’
AN. HOUR. LATER.
I COULD HAVE BEEN EATEN.
Turns out she was chased by Wolfy to her car where, while on the phone to her mother, she dropped the phone while scrambling to get her car open. Naturally, her mother thought she’d been attacked but luckily, there was a bunny nearby that caught the wolf’s attention.
Obviously I mean lucky for my friend.
Not the bunny.
Shortly after, from the safety of her car, she snapped a picture of it:
I showed the picture to The Canadian One and he admitted he thought I was joking on the phone.
Just goes to show, when your fiancée says she sees a wolf in the car park of the building where she works, you should believe her.
This isn’t the girl who cried wolf!
And no, I have no idea what happened to the wolf but I did eagerly check the Metro on Tuesday and there was no reported Wolfy activity as of yet.
Today, The Canadian One texts me to make sure I made it onto the bus safely. I don’t text back as my phone is still in ‘moon mode’ and doesn’t alert me to the text. When I finally check it there are two texts, sent a few moments apart reading:
So, The Canadian One asked me earlier for some lip balm and I root out my Nivea stick (he bought me) from my bag and hand it over. It’s then that I realise I have a lot of random cr@p in my handbag and really, do I need all that stuff?
To do an inventory, I have:
1 x Readers Digest, which came in the mail a few weeks ago from a free-due-to-Airmiles points subscription I signed up to and that I took to read while sitting around in the ER recently (long story, they ended up doing a CT Scan on me, have you ever have a CT Scan, OMG, lemme tell you…actually I’m getting off topic, back to my handbag…)
1 x Wallet, containing cards, money, receipts, a tiny penguin magnet, business cards, bank cards, September’s transit ticket, notes from The Canadian One and some Korean cards I refuse to give up.
1 x Umbrella, I’m Irish, we’re raised that way.
1 x half a packet of sugar-free Polo mints. I love Polo mints and I buy them whenever I can as I like mints but hate chewing gum. I once swallowed it and now think I’ll swallow it everytime which makes me look super-awkward when I do actually chew gum. Which I don’t. Ever. I don’t like putting things in my mouth that I can’t swallow.
I’ll wait while you say ‘that’s what she said’.
1 x Bag of JuJubes. The Canadian One packs our lunches every night. Last night he packed me an assortment of healthy nuts. (Do I need to pause again or can we continue?) This morning, I took out the healthy nuts and replaced them with an entire bag of Jujubes.
Because I’m an adult and I can.
1 x Bag of Lego Candy. I work at a call center, one never knows when one may be either peckish or bored or both.
1 x Bag of Almonds. To balance things out.
5 x Emergency Ketchup. That’s a thing, right? You just never know when you may need Emergency Ketchup.
1 x Bach’s Rescue Remedy. For those ‘of-course-let-me-just-place-you-on-mute-while-you-yell-swear-words-at-me-for-five-minutes’ moments.
1 x Nivea Lip Balm. That should be self-explanatory but if not…Google it.
2 x Pens. I was at my manager’s desk the other day and here’s what happened, she pulls open a drawer to get me a Post-it note:
Me: “Wow, you have a lot of stationary. I have one pen. Just one pen. And for two days last week, I lost my pen! So technically, for two days, I had nothing.”
Me: “Do you have a stapler?”
Her: ‘Yes…Do you?”
Me: “No. Can I borrow your stapler?”
Her: “Yes.” (handing me the stapler) “One day you’ll have your own stapler.”
So now I have two pens in my bag in case the work one ever ‘disappears’ again. It’s also useful for crossing off items on my shopping list.
1 x New iPhone earphones. I broke my old ones and paid a crazy amount for these ones. I swore I’d protect them with my life and store them as I would a tiny kitten or my last Rolo. Three weeks late, I find them stuffed into the bottom of my bag. Best laid plans…
…lead to buying new earphones.
1 x Body Shop perfume sample. It’s glorious but we’re not allowed to wear perfume at work due to allergies. We’re also not allowed nuts, onions or kiwis.
All fruit I understand but specifically kiwis? There’s a picture on the door too reminding us NOT to bring a kiwi to work. A picture. It’s almost like ‘Don’t bring kiwis. This is a kiwi. Also this is an onion. Don’t bring those either. Like your drama and your problems, leave them at the door when you come to work.’ It doesn’t say that. But it should.
1 x Small cosmetic mirror my friend got me in Spain. The pink disk on the front fell off and it kinda broke but it was a gift and I refuse to toss it.
Random paper. I dunno. I get bored at work and doodle.
1 x Imigran migraine medicine. I suffer from horrible migraines. I should take Zomig but I ran out so I take it’s not so smart, not so fast, occasionally completely useless cousin Imigran.
1 x Contact Lens Case. I wear contacts but at work I wear glasses because I stare at a screen all day in air conditioning. I’m not sure why this is in my bag.
2 x Always Infinity Pads. Because they are awesome. And handy. And I’ve had waaaaay too many it’s-been-three-weeks-already?! moments.
1 x Motrin. Life is too long NOT to carry painkillers in your handbag.
1 x Keys. Without my keys I can’t leave the house, access my desk at work to do my job or…actually I have no idea what the third set of keys is for. Maybe The Canadian One’s friend’s old apartment?…So I guess without my keys I can’t randomly break into someone I don’t know’s apartment. Or should that be someone I’ve not met yet?
1 x Tissue. I’m actually surprised that was still in my bag. Usually Louie is all over my bag and pulls the tissue out.
1 x Transit Pass. I don’t drive.
Not pictured: My phone (being used to take the picture), my ID badge for work (for obvious reasons) and my Kindle (which is charging).
How about you? What’s in your handbag? Hit up the comments below and lemme know!
I’ve never finished a game of Monopoly. Not once. Not ever. I’ve not even ever come close to finishing a game, since most games have ended in crossed arms, pouted faces and claims of ‘that’s not how you play!’ and ‘NO, you can’t trade a beer for the Water Works!!’.
Last weekend, we headed off to The Canadian One’s friend’s house to have a few drinks and play a few board games like civilized adults. Due to an overwhelming vote of no Killer Bunnies (dammit!), South Park Monopoly won out and we soon found ourselves wondering if the game will actually end or will it be another one of those times The Canadian One and his friends find the game has come to an abrupt halt with a hockey puck being thrown into a wall / a person being thrown into a wall / an adult-sized tantrum being thrown, delete as appropriate.
We started off slowly. There were the usual Monopoly related problems such as:
‘Do we play house-rules or follow the book?’
‘Do we put the money from Community Chest in the middle and get it when we land on Free Parking or no?’
‘Tradesies allowed for beer and favors?’ It was important to establish that right at the start. It was voted ‘no’ but I later traded The Canadian One one of my red properties for a glass of water, a vodka and orange, one of his blue properties and some cash.
‘Is buying allowed after you’ve gone around the board once or right now?’
And then, since some at the table don’t watch South Park, there were the less traditional questions of:
‘Who’s Butters? I don’t know who he is.’
‘Wait, who am I again?’
‘We have two Kyles? Someone needs to change.’
‘Wait, I got moved. I’m Kyle. Someone moved me!’
‘Who’s the SD card?’
‘Ah, Chef. I know who he is. He sings all those racist songs.’
‘I don’t know who Butters is!!’ ‘You wanna be my engagement ring instead?’
As some points in the game, as there were six of us playing, there were long lags between turns and I felt like bursting into some:
It is the game that never ends,
It just goes on and on my friends,
Some people started playing it not knowing what it was,
And they’ll continue playing it forever just because,
It is the game that never ends,
It just goes on and on my friends…
Until it ended.
And it ended in the spectacularly traditional way of accusations of cheating, money stealing, swearing,
name calling and threats of ‘I’ll flip this board, I’ll flip it right now!’. A quick toss of some money into the pile on the board and the game was done.
No one won. We’re adults who fight over Monopoly, none of us deserved to win.
The last time I played Monopoly was at home in my mother’s house at Christmas in Ireland. The Canadian One and I were visiting and my brother and I decided to break out the Monopoly game. My mother, brother, Canadian One and I all sat down for a game and a drink. Two hours later, with no clear winners in sight, my mother making up her own rules and me stealing money from The Canadian One while he wasn’t watching, the game ended in a four-way tie.
Although my mother will probably swear she won.
Like mother, like daughter, eh?
Have you ever finished a game of Monopoly? What other games have you had end in craziness?
So, I love apps. I adore them. And I collect them in the same way I used to collect POGS, for no reason other than some are awesome and some are not and some are shiny and pretty and somemost are useless. I have way too many and have been trying recently to whittle them down to a select few.
Here’s one of my favorites: Carrot.
I also love lists. I just love them. Shopping lists. To-Do lists. To Write lists. Gift lists. Cards lists. Lists of Lists to Make. If it were a choice between making a list and eating a Dorito…no, bad example…eating a cookie, I would pick making a list. I’m not that fond of cookies.
Among the many to-do list apps I have on my phone, this is by far my favorite. For one very unique reason, it freaks me out when I’m being lazy…but also rewards me when I’m good.
I’m now thinking about Doritos. This is probably why I never get any tasks done.
From the brain of Brian Mueller, basically, you create your own to-do list and as you check off items it rewards you.
With. A. Kitten. And who doesn’t like a kitten?
And when I’m not productive, it hurts my kitten!!
I didn’t name him. And I haven’t reached the level where I’m allowed to rename him yet. Although, if I want, for 99cents I can buy him a pirate outfit. No, seriously.
Carrot also becomes disappointed when I abandon it for long periods of time:
But when I’m good, and complete things, it rewards me again, with a self-portrait of myself:
And then when I ignore it, it starts texting me. A lot.
Does anyone else remember cat week? This week, last year, was CAT WEEK!
A week filled with all things CAT ‘cos God knows, there’s nothing the internet loves more than cats.
And David Hasselhoff.
No, I don’t get it either.
Last year, I had no cat. Now I have a cat and every day is like frikkin cat week. He’s recently learned how to sleep in the bedroom at night-time without waking me up, paws on either side of my face, licking my lip and meowing at me.
Now, when I saw recently, I mean Friday. The Friday just gone. Today is Monday.
It was weird but he’s past the face licking, hair chomping, random pouncing stage and onto the scaring the s*&t out of me stage.
The other night, I was home alone and the house was quiet. I walked into the bathroom and felt something caress my hand. I screamed and then turned to see Louie, sitting on the edge of the sink in the darkness, reaching out a paw to touch me.
So I wake up this morning to this text from a friend from work:
‘Did you look outside yet??’
I had not, although given that she had texted me I had assumed that my iPhone app was not incorrect and it had indeed snowed last night. Having spent some of my still-in-bed-yet-awake morning listening to the cat meowing loudly at the window for several minutes in sporadic bursts for about an hour, I had come to the conclusion that he’d spotted a fly / bird / fluff / a person walking half a mile away and was wanting freedom to give chase.
I was wrong.
I had also thought when my friend text me that it was just going to be a little snow. A small smattering of flakes here and there causing a fluffy white yet still specks of green visible on the ground.
I was wrong.
My response to the text was immediate:
I’d been obsessing about the snow coming for a few weeks. In the form of ‘Winter is Coming‘ terror, it’s been almost three weeks since I busted out my hat and gloves to start wearing daily. When people were wearing flip-flops on the train, I was next to them in my fluffy Costco coat, blue hat and gloves. One day my supervisor at work told me it’d been snowing near where he lives, but I didn’t believe him. The Canadian One came home from band practice one afternoon to proclaim it was snowing, but I could see no evidence of such in the outside world.
I returned to waiting. Checking the weather each day at work. No snow. Hot weather. I began to wonder about the Chinooks, those mystical winds everyone told me about before I moved to Calgary.
‘Oh, you’re moving to Calgary? You’ll be fine, they have Chinooks.’ – said EVERY. CANADIAN. I. MET. IN. KOREA.
Was I in a big Chinook? Was this a Chinook?
Me: “How hot is it during Chinooks?”
Girl who sits next to me: “People wear t-shirts.”
Me: “Would I wear a t-shirt?”
Girl: “You’d probably take off your coat.”
People were wearing t-shirts and shorts on Thursday, I thought. Maybe it was exaggerated. Maybe there was no snow in October.
And then it happened.
The snow came.
Does anyone remember EXACTLY seven months ago (plus a day) when we moved here and it snowed and it was The Most Snow I’d Ever Seen?! This is almost the same amount of snow.
I posted a picture of this morning’s snow on Facebook and immediately got:
‘Oh no Jenny, your greatest fear realised.’ – My Irish Friend in Korea (the one with the Leprechaun baby!)
BUT alas, The Canadian One returned from Wal-Mart and announced that a) we needed to get our driver’s licenses and b) it’s not that cold outside and we should go outside and play. Quickly followed by him asking several times if I was sure I wanted to go outside and yes, I do need to wear gloves.
Also this week, I survived my first six months at work (celebrating the six-month-mark with breaking a federal law), discovered Louie likes pom-poms and pipe cleaners, Nenshi is still mayor, I learned why one should never ever, not ever, not even once in their lifetime make caramel apples in the slow cooker and I decided no Nanowrimo for me this year. Well, maybe….
Any advice for an Irish girl’s first winter in Canada? Someone’s already suggested vodka…It’s top of the list of survival tactics so far!
So all week I’ve been battling a probably-not-pink-eye-but-definitely-some-kind-of-eye-infection in both eyes. Well, it started in one eye and then spread to the other. The girl who sits next to me at work had an eye infection and the girl on the other side of me threw up in the middle of the work day so really, there was no hope for me. After four days of pondering and wearing glasses (I hate wearing glasses), I relented and went to the pharmacy while The Canadian One was in the ER…different story, he’s fine. The pharmacist told me ‘it’s not pink eye but it’s some kinda infection so we’ll treat it like pink eye’.
Which in a roundabout way brings me to last Sunday, My First Canadian Thanksgiving. I’d spent most of my day Freezer Cooking while The Canadian One was at band practice.
In the evening, we headed off to dinner at The Canadian One’s co-worker’s house for a glorious Thanksgiving dinner. We met his co-worker’s lovely wife, fluffy dog (no seriously, I say fluffy but what I actually mean is more-fluffy-than-anything-I’ve-ever-seen), his parents, his aunts, his uncle, his cousins and his adorable grandmother. This was the first time I’d met any of these people and opted to remember how they were related to each other as opposite to remembering their actual names.
His grandmother: “It’s easy to remember my name, everyone just calls me grandma.”
I’d spent some time googling Thanksgiving and learning what is traditional and what is not. Sitting down at the table after two glasses of wine with my mason jar of water, I surveyed the colorful table with glee. There was everything I’d read about online. Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy the color of apples (I didn’t understand it, our gravy in Ireland is brown but meh, it tasted great) and cranberry sauce. The sweet potatoes were mashed in a square dish with melted marshmallows on top and had a sugary taste. There was a small debate over calling them yams or sweet potatoes and I realized that a ‘yam’ and a ‘sweet potato’ are the same thing. Earlier in the day, I’d sent The Canadian One to Safeway with a list for my day’s Freezer Cooking bonanza and he came back with a yam and not a sweet potato. I’d made fun of him. I’d always though sweet potatoes were purple. Yams are white. Eggs here are white too. Canada’s weird.
The best part of the dinner was the pie and drinking water from mason jars. I’ll come back to the mason jar thing in a moment, lemme tell you about the pie. It was pumpkin pie. And ohhhh it was glorious. Soft and delicious, without an overabundance of ‘pumpkinness‘. I‘ve not have much experience with pumpkin. I’ve never carved a pumpkin. We don’t eat pumpkin at home. The only pie I’d ever eaten is apple (and blueberry, but that was only recently and because I’d baked it).
The stuffing is also worth an honorary mention. I maintain my grandmother made The Best Stuffing In The World, and I would bet you my cat that everyone else in the world thinks the same thing about their own grandmother’s stuffing, but this stuffing was pretty good too.
On to the mason jars, living in Ireland, England and South Korea, I’d never come across a mason jar in my lifetime up until this summer in Wal-Mart. I saw all these jars in a crate for $10 (or something like that) and made The Canadian One buy them and carry them home. Throughout the summer I’ve been using them to store dry ingredients and random coins for the laundry machine. Some Splenda here, some baking soda there, a bunch of quarters in one jar, a couple of dollar coins in the other. Since my discovery of drinking from a mason jar, I’ve been using them as cocktail shakers, which seems like a natural progression from drinking water. My drink of choice: Lime Vodka: three shots of vodka, three shots of lime juice, a few ice cubes and fill the rest of the jar with water (about three more shotfuls), shake, shake, shake and pour into a small glass with ice. You should get three drinks out of it. In theory. I got two as the second time I went back to the fridge to pour my drink, I just stuck the straw in the mason jar and abandoned my glass.
On Monday, I had my second Thanksgiving dinner. I’m told it’s a usual thing to have two, one on the Sunday and one on the Monday. We hit up The Canadian One’s childhood-friends-we-lived-with-when-we-first-moved-here’s house to enjoy the second turkey coma of the weekend. I regaled stories from my first Thanksgiving the day before and asked if certain things were typically ‘Canadian’. There was no comparison between Sunday and Monday’s dinners. Both were unique and full of new and unusual yumminess. Monday’s featured a stuffing made from what looked like bread rolls of some kind (you know what, I’ll ask and report back), a pink beetroot and carrot side dish, purple cabbage, garlic mashed potatoes that were creamy and delicious with delicate hints of garlic as opposite to an overpowering taste I had expected when told they were garlic flavored, and a wonderful oh-my-god baked acorn squash with sugar and butter (only butter for The Canadian One).
The best part of the dinner was the acorn squash and the second pumpkin pie in 24 hours. This pumpkin pie was slightly different this time with a pecan topping and a slightly sweeter taste. I slid off as pecans are one of those nuts that remind me of beondegi (silkworm pupae, a popular snack in Korea I was once forced to try while out drinking with my friend’s not-a-date friend, his father and his father’s business associates…that in itself is a story for another day) and I just can’t eat them. By ‘can’t’, I mean ‘won’t’.
And the acorn squash. It was sugary like a dessert but eaten for dinner. Like. A. Dessert. But. Dinner.
As far as I know, it was just sugar, butter and squash baked in the oven. Maybe when I’m asking about the stuffing, I’ll ask about that too.
Just for you.
Also, as an add-on, I had my reservations about eating the beetroot. Lemme tell you why: a few months ago, I ate beetroot at a French dinner in South Korea (!) for the first time in five years and the following day my pee turned pink. I thought I was dying. That this was death. In the form of pink pee. To make a long story short, beetroot makes your pee pink. And vitamin B tablets make your pee bright day-glow yellow. And an antibiotic I was on once made my pee green. No s%*t, frikkin’ green!
Moving on for real.
Anyone else do anything interesting last weekend? What did you eat for Thanksgiving dinner? And what do you do with your mason jars?!
UPDATE 10/21: So, I got a text regarding the stuffing and the acorn squash. I was correct, the stuffing was made with sour dough bread (and kale…I did not guess kale) and the acorn squash is all butter and sugar goodness. Recipe: Half squash, bake for 40 minutes at 400F, add butter and brown sugar (or no sugar if you’re The Canadian One) and pop back into the oven until melted.
Well, that’s a title I never thought I’d write…especially since I don’t actually watch The Walking Dead BUT The Canadian One does and I feel like I know enough about it to string together the storyline. The dude from Teachers is married to the chick from Prison Break, there are zombies and an annoying small kid named Carl. And a prison. And a governor. And zombies. And guns. And zombies. Right? His name is Carl, right? That’s the only name I know from that show. Unless Rick is Andrew Lincoln’s character’s name. I could be making that up though and I’m too lazy to Goolge. I’m sure someone will hit up the comments to correct / congratulate me.
Anywoo, I saw this and thought of you guys on this fine, sunny, apparently-last-day-of-warm-weather-here-in-Calgary, day.