30 Dec 2005

Take An Alberta Break


For the past week, I've been visiting my family in beautiful Alberta - the land of pickup trucks and blue federal election signs. My parents live in Edmonton, so we've been here for the most part, with exception of a little trip to Calgary and one to Jasper. Today is the last full day before we board a plane back to stinky Toronto. And so, since time is tight, I'll update a bit later on my return.

Happy Holidays!


22 Dec 2005


My experiences with tights and pantyhose have never been great. Some of my earlier memories are of my mom trying to get my cable-knits up my chubby child legs as I squirmed with every awful pinch of her nails. Even then, I chose fashion over comfort. Or I guess my mom chose it for me as I probably would have wanted to go to school in my bathing suit and Wonder Woman bracelets, but you get the idea.

Today, the problem with hosiery is still all about getting them - and keeping them - up. I buy the correct size of pantyhose every time (at least according to the charts on the back of the package), and yet, without fail, it seems as though they were made for someone a foot shorter than me. It's an unsexy battle to get the hosiery's crotch up to its parking spot and one that I have to fight each time I go to the washroom.

What's worse though, is when the shimmy or the roll-down happens. You'll be sitting or standing there, and suddenly the waist part will just give up and start rolling down to your hips like Frank's Slide. It's a bad, bad feeling - especially when you're in public as I was this evening at our staff's holiday dinner party.

What makes the Roll-Down particularly special is when you're sitting and your skirt's waist line is still where it should be and your panty-hose roll has rested just above your lap - creating a magnificently accented gut. Very nice.

And then, when you stand-up - you can only pray that the hose roll stays where it is (precariously at your hips) and doesn't decide to just keep on' truckin' southbound. If this happens, your range of motion gets stunted and you have to get yourself over to a bathroom pronto - all the while looking like one of those hilarious bastards in March Of The Penguins.

I'm sure it doesn't help that I buy the world's cheapest pantyhose ever - never with the control-top or control-thighs or control-the-universe features. Perhaps I should look into that.


20 Dec 2005

Here Comes Santa Claus ...

... and that would be me and I don't mean in the jolly, generous way. More in the round, bloated way. Just in time to see my family again, I am pushing maximum density. YARRRG.

I'm at the point where I am just so, so uncomfortable with myself. I feel gross and dumpy and just 'not right'. And it is just such a lovely cherry on top of it all to be in this state of blob for a long-awaited family visit. I am a dolt.

My family is great. Wonderful. But we can't help but make little comments when someone has gained or lost weight. And we're not very good at being subtle when we check each other out to determine whether said weight has been lost or gained. Eyes always seem to settle on that new double-chin or the makings of a gut. No one means any harm - it's just the way we are. And this is what I keep thinking about as Friday approaches (my flight home is that night). Oh, Anxiety, you come around at the greatest times.

The new job (can I still call it 'new'?) has caused me to take on different habits that are really loaning themselves to this situation. I have:
* Been working late
* Getting up and going to work earlier than before
* Mindlessly eating my lunches at my desk due to the busyiness
* Enjoying the free Diet Cokes that are provided rather than drinking water

While I have joined a gym and have been going to it faithfully, I'm realizing that my eating has turned to crap. I haven't cooked a real meal from scratch since I don't know when. It's either frozen or pre-made or ordered in or out a box. Despite many of these things being 'calorie wise' they're still all loaded with crap that no doubt keeps my body in a state of storage. On top of that, I'm eating way later than I normally do in the evenings and skipping breakfasts.

All of this has mounted into my being where I am now: paunchy and borderline miserable.

Sigh. I know what I need to do. I just wish I had been doing it sooner.


18 Dec 2005

The Gift That Keeps On Getting More Expensive

I have trouble with gifts. I have no shortage of ideas for people, but have massive trouble sticking to spending limits. I don't know if this is because my tastes are expensive or if the dollar just doesn't stretch as far as I hope it would - but I always get more than I initially plan or promise.

It goes a little like this:
1. I buy gifts for my mom and spend $XXX - maybe just a touch more than I planned on, but 'tis the season, ho ho ho, etc, etc.
2. I bring what I bought home, make a little nest of tissue paper from the bags and nestle all the items for mom into one cute pile on the couch.
3. I step back, look at it and frown. "This pile doesn't LOOK like $XXX worth of stuff. In fact, it doesn't look like much at all!" I bellow.
4. I figure I can afford to get a little more - maybe just enough that I can get her something else to unwrap.
5. I spend $YY, bring it back, place that gift on its own tissue paper nest on the couch.
6. I then look over and the nest I made for my dad nearby catches my eye. I frown and worry, "Now mom's gifts are obviously more than dad's gifts - I need to even that up bit. I'll just need to spend $YY on dad, and it should be pretty equal."
7. I go to the store, spend $YY on dad - a bit more than I planned but it's all about Baby Jesus, claymation specials, etc. etc. - so I excuse it.
8. I bring what I bought home and readjust dad's nest to include the new things I've picked up.
9. I step back, look at it and frown. "This pile doesn't LOOK like $XXX + $YY worth of stuff. In fact, it doesn't look like much at all!" I bellow.

Repeat over and over again, cycling the names of my loved ones in that mix. I can see myself still in that horrible loop of spending right up until I'm pacing through the same three stores in the airport and am somehow convincing myself that adding maple syrup candies and a plush moose wearing a Toronto t-shirt would be a welcome top-up to Patrick's stocking.

Good lord.


13 Dec 2005

More Gym = Weight Gain?

What the bloody hell?

Despite hectic and long work days, I have managed to drag myself to the gym 3x a week. In addition to this, I've been bringing lunches to work in the form of Lean Cuisines and other calorie-aware frozen chemicals.

And what happens?


And not just 0.5 lbs here, or there. LIKE 8 LBS. THAT ARE STAYING. LIKE BITCHES THAT CAN'T TAKE A HINT.

I'm so annoyed. It's not like I can try to dismiss it as muscle growth either. I'm mainly just doing cardio at the gym, plus, whenever I do weights it's not impressive. It's more like I'm casually grazing on the weight equipment like a cow, not totally sure of what I should be doing or if I should put a solid effort into whatever it is I'm trying.


I'm going home to visit the parents this Xmas. I love them, but they ALWAYS notice if I've put on pounds. So. Not. What. I. Want. To. Deal. With.

And what annoys me most: It's that I'm consumed by this. How stupid. Of all things to fret about, eight pounds has my attention? I haven't even bothered to care about those poor hostages in whatever middle-eastern country. That's how bad I suck! I don't even know where the silly wankers are, but I do know how many ounces I am!


11 Dec 2005

They Like Me, They Really Like Me!

Ever get so flattered that you don't know how to properly react? Do you shoo it and excuse it away or do you say thank you? And if you say thank you, is it like you truly believe that such flattery is really deserved? I'm so bad at reacting to that kind of thing.

This happened to me recently. So now I'm going to brag about it.

This week, my old co-workers contacted me and invited me to the company's Christmas party. That, alone, is wonderful. It's basically an invite for free booze without ever earning it. Who turns that down?

Unfortunatley, I had already made some new work-related plans so I wasn't able to come for the dinner - but I did swing by around 9:30pm and it was still quite hopping. I walked and was immediately greeted with a Cheers-esque "JEN!" as one would do with the name "Norm" if you owned a bar in Boston. I was handed a shot to down before my coat was even off.

My old co-workers are just the best. Really - such nice, nice, fun people. I was trampled by them when I came in - getting hugs and screams and people saying "we've missed you like crazy!"

And then ... holy cow: I found out that one of the reasons they wanted me there was to present an award. It was newly made Jen MyLastName Spirit Award that they were making into an annual award to be given to the person that was "the most positive influence at the office." How crazy is that?!?!

To top it off, all evening long people would come up to me and tell me how the office hasn't been the same without me and how incredibly they truly realize I was.

I'm braggy now and surely making your eyes roll - but really, is there a proper reaction to being gushed over like that when all you were was an employee and not some hottie celebrity? I kept wavering between belittling myself and blushing politely.

I think the main reason I post this is so that when I eff up and/or am given some belittling task at the new job I can look to this post and give myself a little pat on the back and think "You had a spirit award named after you and you didn't even have to go the cheerleading camp to do it. Way to go, lady."


9 Dec 2005

The Clark Kentification of Technology

The other day at work I had to plug my digital camera into my computer to pull off a couple of pictures for our graphic designer. Once done, I stared at the screen looking for that little "remove hardware" icon.

Me: "Do you see that thingie that I have to click on before I can unplug the camera from the computer?"

Graphic Designer: "Hmmm ... no ... weird. "

Me: "Hmm ..."

We both sat there staring at the computer not sure what to do next.

Me: "Maybe I'll just unplug it. "

Graphic Designer: "WHAT?!?"

Me: "Well, we can't just leave it plugged in forever - and it's not even giving us the dumb thingie. Maybe it's safe."

Graphic Designer: "Your call, man. Your call."

Silently, cautiously, I stood behind my computer and put my hand on the USB cord that connected the computer to my camera. The designer and I looked at each other in a moment of scared tension. His eyes said "don't do it" but my mind was made up. I pulled the plug. We both leaped to the devices - he to the computer, me to the camera - looking for signs of life. Both were fine. Some 1980's hero music suddenly swelled, we hi-fived and went out for a Budweiser.

How ridiculous is it that we we warranted in our fears? Many a person have destroyed their iPod by detaching it from the computer in mid-charge. The heart-stopping "fatal error" message PCs slam in your face after just a few misclicks and mis-yanks of a devise have stressed out and provided ulcers to countless.

I remember the days when I used to turn off my computer with it's on-off switch. No shutting down, powering down, or safe mode garbage. Just flicking the switch - one minute I'd be playing Burger Time, the next minute the computer would be sleeping. And the computer didn't mind! When you'd start it back up, it didn't give you a bitchy notice of having improperly turned it off followed by a hypocondriac-esque checking of all its systems to see if anything was wrong (and making damn sure that you waited and worried with it).

I bet those computers from the 50s were super hardy too. You could probably toss one into a flatbed of a truck, go 4x4'ing and plug it back in and it would still be as happy as a clam. Bigger than a refrigerator and only able to do one Grade 5 math problem an hour, but at least it could take a shit-kicking - or in the least - handle being unplugged.


6 Dec 2005

Chin Up, Right To The Ceiling

So, thanks again for the thoughtful words of encouragement. So kind. They really do mean a lot.

My parents seem to have already turned their attentions toward "normal" and are asking about Christmas, getting eager to have yours truly home and to finally meet this boy that I've tricked into liking me. So I'll follow their lead and focus on some happy things on the horizon.

I'm ready to have less showers, too, mainly because our bathroom is truly, truly gross.

A few weeks ago (or maybe a month ago?) we informed our landlord, Charmaine (whom Patrick has dubbed "The Charmaniac"), that the hot water tap in our shower wasn't shutting off properly and that the knob was kind of loose. Well, the knob is now completely useless and we now have to turn the hot water on and off with a pair of pliers. It's like we're this hillbilly couple that considers faucets too "fancy" to be bothered with.

The pliers, however, are only somewhat effective. Try as we might, there is still a little stream of hot water that runs day and night in our shower. This small amount of water manages to heat and steam up the bathroom, making it feel like Humid August Day In Toronto In A Box. It's our own tropical oasis in the winter - complete with - wait for it - vegetation.

Yes kids, I'm referring to the psychedelic ceiling of mold we now enjoy. All the colourful rings paired with whatever poison mold leaches is handing out some heavy tripping potential. Maybe it explains why Patrick enjoys snacking so much. He's, like, the slowest pooper ever which means that he spends way more time in that toxic place than I do. I guess he's just bound to get the munchies.

The Charmaniac has yet to get on with our request. I'm hoping the insane water bill that's coming her way will get her attention.


4 Dec 2005

I Hate This

Back in 2001, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had an aggressive surgery to take care of it - and for the most part, it worked. He did have some PSA levels show up in his post-op screening, but they were very, very low. Early this summer, his PSA levels began to increase and his doctor suggested that they get nabbed with radiation treatment.

A couple days ago my dad got his latest PSA screening results back. The hope was that the PSA levels would be down, or better yet - at zero. Instead, the numbers are up. And somewhat steeply up. This means that the area they were radiating (the prostate bed) isn't the culprit. The cancer is now somewhere else - and unfortunately, they don't know where and they don't know how to eliminate it.

He now basically has to wait it out until things get "bad" at which point he'll take on some rather quality-of-life depleting hormone therapies to keep it at bay.

My parents are trying to take it in stride. They're making plans for all sorts of trips and experiences in the coming while so that they can "enjoy it while they can." But the very thought of them living with this awful looming reality that 'things are going to get worse' floods me with every awful, sinking, gutted emotion out there.

I am not a pretty crier. My nose somehow expands and turns red, my eyes puff up, my skin gets blotchy. I gurgle and choke and snot up. So when I'm on the verge of bawling, I jump in the shower so that I at least have some privacy while looking and sounding gross. To put it mildly, I've taken a couple extra showers these last few days.

I am trying to see the good in this. My dad is not 'sick' or in any pain. He actually has no symptoms of cancer. He IS able to enjoy today. With continued research, they may be able to screen and treat what he's facing. Should you be inclined, a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society would be of enormous help - if not to my dad, but to anyone that has to deal with this fuckface of a disease (and I would literally have to sprint for the shower again if I were to find out that this dumb little post actually got someone to do such a generous thing).

Thanks for listening.


3 Dec 2005

Anybody Want A Job?

Here I am, one week later, in the same state of non-blog. Sorry, gentle reader.

The reasons are 90% work-related. Things are hysterically hectic - really, you have to laugh at how crazy things are. Seeing as laughing is much less painful (not to mention the fashion aspect) than tearing out your hair, I choose that option of dealing.

The pace and the amount of shite happening has also proven to be most effective in weeding out those individuals who can't deal with warp-speed stress. Since I've started the job (which was Oct 24), four people have quit and one person got canned. Two of the four people who quit, quit in their first weeks of starting. Their departures, naturally, have only added more fuel to the ridiculous bonfire that us remaining folk have been trying to control. Somewhere, Susan Powter's Spidysenses are giving her convulsions.

And the craziest thing of all of this? I'm liking it. There's just so much to do, so much to get done and so much to solve. I loves fixing and organizing - and that's pretty much what I'm doing all day. The HR Nightmare of '05 is just one more opportunity to fix something. It's one more horrifying hurdle that makes victory just that much more sweeter.

So, now that I've truly convinced you of how wonderful it is, anyone interested in working with us? There are openings!

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I have no shame

Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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