the Trip

We booked the trip in April, exactly 3 weeks before I was let go from my teaching job. I can’t tell you how many time’s I’d thought we should cancel it as more and more resumes went out with less response. I did bring it up to Keith a few times, that we should maybe cancel it as there was no way I could pay for any of it, but he just smiled his Keith smile and said, that’s what nest eggs are for, isn’t it, and we found ourselves at Toronto Pearson International Airport on December 22, our 10th anniversary and also the day of one helluva ice storm.

I’m pretty sure you don’t care to hear about our flights that got cancelled (2), the lines we waited in (4), or the people we talked to (lots). We watched the departure board as flight after flight got cancelled and watched people being ushered through the doors that would lead them back through Canadian customs and then home again. I wish I’d taken a picture of the departure board – everything was cancelled except for our new flight to Cleveland. Which we got to just as the much-delayed flight to Vegas was boarding. Our luggage didn’t make the transfer in time, but we got to our room a the MGM Grand exactly when we thought we would.

All we had to do is swing by McCarran the next day to get our suitcase that had come in on the next flight, and the road trip started. So glad we had unlimited mileage on the rental car.

map

Our road trip: Vegas > Grand Canyon > Monument Valley > Zion National Park > San Luis Obispo > Half Moon Bay > Ridgecrest > Vegas

I’ve had people ask me when we got back, what was the best part of the vacation, and I try hard to answer it but it was all so great. Of course there were all kinds of standout moments, like drinking a nice stout while watching the sun set from our hotel room in Monument Valley, challenging my agoraphobia by standing 10′ away from the sans-guardrail edge of Horseshoe Bend, walking along Lone Rock Beach aka Lake Silencio from Doctor Who. There was the amazing Christmas dinner at Zion Mountain Ranch and the starlit walk back to our cabin, where we awoke to a view of grazing buffalo outside our window. The drive along Highway 1 from San Luis Obispo north along the coast was incredibly lovely, and was capped off in Half Moon Bay by the best sunset I have every seen and the best pizza I have ever eaten. The drive back to Las Vegas through Death Valley was surreal and stark, and we finished the trip with the after dark tour at the Neon Museum.

In the end, I’m glad we didn’t cancel it. We hadn’t gone anywhere together for a while, and we needed it.

Some of the trip photos; more can be found here

Some of the trip photos; more can be found here

Trading card time

It has been a week of doing that thing I most hate doing – writing about myself.

I know, I know, I write about myself all the time; there’s Twitter, Facebook and here. But those are different, fun. Writing something serious or semi-serious about myself for other people to read makes my procrastination gene work overtime.

This morning, I emailed my portfolio for the Brewmaster application. It’s been proofread and edited by 3 people other than myself, and I still found a grammar issue this morning upon the eleventy-hundredth reading. *head desk. I did the two tricks I was shown when I worked at the print shop – read it out loud (2 more issues) and read it backwards word by word (no more issues). I could re-write sentences forever, so made myself finally hit the Send button. I only checked 5 times before sending that I had attached the right file. And so far, 4 times after sending. Yes, I am that paranoid about it.

Then on to the other one. This is substantially less critical, but still needs to be right. It’s time to write my copy for the Toronto Roller Derby trading cards. I couldn’t help but laugh at the typo on last year’s – it’s so me. What made it funnier was the fact that it wasn’t my typo!

After much thought, this is what I’m going with:

Spirit Animal: Grumpy Cat*

Three Likes: Beer, motorcycles and Doctor Who

Three dislikes: Bad coffee, romantic comedies and To Do lists

Is known for: Refusing to act her age

I’ve decided to go with last year’s picture as it’s one of the few pictures of me that I like. That and the fact I’ve put on weight during my unemployment, and I can’t keep denying how much if I have actual proof, now can I?

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*Keith asked me why Grumpy Cat – she can’t help the fact that she looks so grumpy all the time, and apparently is quite a lovely and sweet cat. Not that I’m saying I’m lovely and sweet, but I’m a damn sight nicer than my Resting Bitch Face  would lead people to believe.

December madness

Cross posted from goodaleandbeer.com, because I’m lazy right now.


I tell myself every year that this year will be different, this year I will be as prepared for the December holiday madness as it is possible to be.

I was on the right track; I realized early on that there would be no way to knit gifts for my nieces and nephews. This decision coincided with an email from the World Wildlife Fund, and the gifts were purchased and sent in record time. We are not going to be around for the holiday itself, so the usual travel itinerary between Stratford, Sudbury and Oakville does not need to be sorted, hostess gifts, presents and food do not need to be organized.

And yet, I am still discombobulated. Because of the misunderstanding in the due dates for my marks, I’ve had to drop the teacher-led class for a self-paced online grade 12 chemistry class. To say it has been difficult is an understatement; the frustration of not understanding it as quickly as I would like combined with the stress of the expedited timeline reduced me to tears in lesson two. Phone calls from far-off bff’s shook me out of it, and I have learned (again) to ask for help. I now know that I know not one but THREE people with chemistry-related degrees, and the science teacher at my old school has offered to help me with my homework.

Phew.

Then on to the application to Niagara College itself, and I am stressing out over every aspect of the portfolio submission. The little voice in the back of my head whispers that I am too old, too late and without enough relevant experience to get it. The little voice would rather I not try than be turned down. Words fail to express how much I hate that little voice.

I am also trying not to slip in to my usual winter hermit mode. Have met some former colleagues for lunch, and went out on Monday with Jen from Ltd Supply to check out the Indie Ale House. It’s hard to say which was more delicious, the burger or the Christmas porter. Like I said to Jen, a good burger should fall apart before you’re finished which this one did in spades. The porter had a lovely warn gingerbread taste going for it, making it a perfect dessert for the meal.

We headed over to the Hole in the Wall where it is very possible that I may have drank a little too much of the Yuletide Cherry porter from Barley Days Brewery. Good conversation over good beer in a good locale – definitely worth braving the cold for!

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And that is why I have not made my Mocha Stout yet. I’m going to take a look at the timing and plan it so there’s nothing that needs attention for the week we’re away on our southwest road trip. It might have to wait until we get back.

It’s that time again

It’s that time again, where like-minded individuals meet in Las Vegas and indulge in all manner of bad but very fun behaviour involving fine food, alcohol and poker. Others of the group are heading to New Orleans for the same kind of bad behaviour, minus the poker. Me, I’m staying home as the EI pittance does not allow for weekend trips to Vegas. I am going to spend the weekend trying to stay away from social media and the hashtags #WPBT and #WPBTeast.

I hope you all have fun. Bastards.

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The holidays are creeping up on me. While I don’t have marking and report cards looming over me any more, I’m still behind. I took an honest look at the calendar last week and tossed away any delusions that I could knit gifts for my three nieces and one nephew in time. Just then, an email from the World Wildlife Fund landed in my inbox. Perfect timing. Christmas shopping = done. Well, mostly done anyway.

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Getting most anxious about my college application. I have about two weeks left to pull together my portfolio, and another week has slipped by without me being able to start my online grade 12 chemistry course. Not exactly sure what the hold up is, other than something is wrong about the way they digitized the information from when I took another course through them IN 1980!!! 

Must take deep breaths. Do not freak out on underpaid woman on the help desk.

As of today, I have exactly 87 days to take the course, with all quizzes and unit assignments (there are 5 units), write the final exam and get my final mark to the college admissions department. I can’t think about it too much or my brain shuts down and basically does this:

kermit

prompt 57

The prompt comes from a list generated from 642 Things to Write About. The number was picked at random by Juliette:

#57: Things I should throw away but can’t

What followed was a short text discussion on possibilities. J thought of larger, metaphorical items, like guilt. I replied, like I could ever get rid of that. It’s like old Windows applications that are no longer useful but are buried so deep in the operating system that they could never be extricated without fucking the whole thing up.

So here is my non-metaphorical list of small things I should throw away, but can’t.

  • a collection of small glass bowls I bought at the dollar store to float decorative candles in during my 40th birthday party
  • my dad’s full set of James Bond 007 novels. They are slowly disintegrating in that way that old pulp paperbacks do, and I can’t get past the sexism, mysogyny, homophobia and racism to read them through again. yes, I know they’re indicative of a time period, but it doesn’t mean I really want to visit that time period.
  • photos from wedding #1.
  • video from wedding #2
  • my journals written during bad times
  • a pair of red kid gloves from when I was very small
  • the pink gingham dress I wore on my first day of kindergarten
  • my old buckle boots that are now too narrow to fit my feet
  • a collection of cheap earrings, bracelets and pins from my bad old days
  • my mother’s old nursing cape. I wish I could wear it but I am a bit broader in the shoulders
  • a hundred or so cards sent to me by my beloved during our rocky courtship
  • old photos from working in bars and restaurants, of events and people I don’t remember
  • the black leather mini skirt that I will never fit into again
  • the expensive hand cream that makes my hand turn red and feel like they’re on fire
  • the bubble bath that makes me smell like I’ve doused myself with old lady perfume
  • 2 USB headsets that don’t work
  • several computer games on CD that won’t run on anything later than Windows 98
  • a few hundred CDs that I have already converted to mp3 files
  • a crate of stained glass panes and a tool box filled with all the necessary equipment in case I should ever decide to get back into stained glass again
  • a small bible given to me by someone when I was small. It has my full name stamped in gold on the black leather cover. It carries no significance or meaning for me whatsoever
  • books on programming languages that no one programs in any more
  • a vintage black dress with the broken zipper I’ve been meaning to fix for a decade
  • liners for motorcycle jackets that were left in Australia
  • silk ties I picked up because I liked the designs but will never wear or use in a craft project

Go Downtown to See The Bowie Exhibit At The AGO and Then Go To The Ballet Day

So glad I tore through a big chunk of my crap-to-do list before taking myself out. I don’t think I would have enjoyed my outing so much if I’d still had a bunch of things still hanging over my head.

I didn’t get to see the Bowie exhibit though. It was the second last day, and I could tell by how busy the ticket desks were that it was going to be packed. I decided to take a pass since 1) I’m not a fan of crowds and 2) I’ve already seen it. I was getting my general admission ticket at the member’s desk when the nice man asked me if I wanted to see the new Guggenheim exhibit that opens on Saturday. Yes, please! Membership does have it’s perks.

There was much there that I liked. I spent a lot of time in front of Red Eiffel Tower by Delaunay and View From a Paris Window by Chagall. There were pieces by Kandinsky and Mondrian that I think I have to go back to.

I am however, still filled with meh at Picasso. Perhaps I just haven’t seen the right piece yet.

I visited my usuals; the Draped Seated Woman sculpture by Henry Moore (reminds me of the orbiting giants from MirrorMask) and Lake Superior III by Lawren Harris, then went for a surprisingly good coffee in the member’s lounge and got some writing done.

Gehry staircase, Draped Woman Seated, and Lake Superior III

Gehry staircase, Draped Seated Woman, & Lake Superior III

I wandered down to Chapters and killed some time until doors opened at the Four Seasons Centre. I went to the ballet talk, which was interesting but a bit much in spots.

The show was called Innovation, and had four short pieces. All were good, but the second one called Being and Nothingness (Part 1), a 7-minute solo set to Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis, was by far the most moving IMHO.

The view from Ring 5

The view from Ring 5

 

Get Shit Done Day

Running solo for the next few days as Keith is travelling with Colm Wilkinson. Am a bit at odds wit myself, and am now entering day 5 of this funk that has me alternating between feelings of dread, being on the edge of tears and being in utter denial that anything is wrong at all (N0, really, I’m fine. Really). I laid in bed last night and as my mind started going down the paths that lead to anxiety (again) I decided to throw some money at the problem and take myself out on a date. I was going to make Wednesday Get Shit Done In the Morning and Then Go Downtown to See The Bowie Exhibit At The AGO Again and Then Go To The Ballet Day.  And then I slept as well as anyone could after eating chocolate just before bed (d’oh!).

Thought about it this morning though, and have decided to break that into two days. Today will be Get Shit Done Day. Get ALL The Shit Done Day to be precise. That way I can get the most out of tomorrow’s Go Downtown to See The Bowie Exhibit At The AGO and Then Go To The Ballet Day without anything hanging over my head.

Shit that I will get done today (in no particular order):

  1. finish sock monkey hat for my niece’s birthday. Finished, 11:09
  2. make slouch bag like this one in the sock monkey fabric for niece’s birthday Finished 1:36
  3. wrap sock monkey hat & slouch bag & package for shipping to Calgary. Finished 2:50
  4. package 2 pairs of Dr Who fingerless mitts for shipping to Rochester MN. Finished 2:50
  5. go to post office across the street and mail packages to Calgary & Rochester. Finished 2:50
  6. sew replacement buttons on grey winter coat. Finished at 4:50
  7. update LinkedIn profile. I had someone awesome write up my summary that I was having so much trouble with. Now it’s time to actually get it on there! Finished 6:18
  8. take and upload photo-a-day photo. Finished at 5:45
  9. write about Monday’s final beer class for beer blog Finished at 8:10: http://goodaleandbeer.com/?p=164
  10. watch movie & drink a beer for Beer and a Movie section on beer blog
  11. write about movie and beer on beer blog
  12. follow up with TDSB re: if they can move up the date of the exam so I can get my marks in to  Niagara College in time.
  13. do a bit of a sweep and clean. Done sort of at 3:10, enough so I’m saying it’s done. It’ll have to be done again though before Keith gets home.
  14. start silk mohair lace scarf thank you gift. Started at 8:30
  15. cook up next home brew – Mocha Stout from True Brews (this might not happen. It’s time consuming, and I want to get the rest of stuff done first)
  16. sign up for and play tonight’s Buddy Dank home game on Poker Stars Signed up at noon. Definitely playing by 10!

Hitting Publish now, at 10:13 am. I’m ready to get crackin’.

Proof:

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20131127-133827.jpg

Nothing good ever comes of the late night navel gazing of a hormonal insomniac.

I’ve been trying to get to sleep for what feels like months. I’m tired, I get ready for bed, I lay down, and then presto. Not tired anymore.

I’ll lay there in the dark and envy my beloved’s ability to fall asleep within ten breaths. His deep breathing doesn’t sooth me; if anything it adds a level of anxiety. What if it stops and I’m not awake to restart it? Sounds out there I know, but both my dad and older brother have related sleep apnea stories, tales of waking up because they stopped breathing and what they had to do to restart it.

Anxiety has had a field day since May. But the bastard never shows it’s face in the light of day when I can deal with it. No, it waits until I lay down and am warm and comfortable under the duvet. It then parades an ever-changing parade of images through my mind. The mistakes I made, might have made without realizing it and even the ones that I know I didn’t make but might have in an alternate universe. Stupid things I said, and stupid things I didn’t say but only thought so loud they might have heard me. False images of people in HR departments laughing at any one of the hundred resumes I’ve sent out, exclaiming to each other, who does she think she’s kidding? The man at the course I want to get into isn’t returning my email, not because he’s busy and it might have fallen off his radar but because he knows my application is hopeless and doesn’t want to waste any more of his time on me. I’ll think that I should be further along by now, think that I should have learned more, done more, accomplished more by now. I should have used the time to go the gym and become less fat and flabby, gone to the HackLab to meet people & learn stuff, edit the novel, write the stories for submission, finish the online courses I started, get out, do something, finish anything. But of course I haven’t because I am just not that good at anything, not nearly as good as I think I am. I could be, but I’m not. For the eleventy billionth time, I curse my laziness and lack of self-discipline, and think, tomorrow, tomorrow might be different.

But it never is. Every morning, I wake up groggy after finally giving up and taking something to sleep, but too late for it to actually be fully effective before the sun streams in through the space under the roller blind. I have coffee and the best of intentions, but then the day passes with me becoming a little more reluctant every day to do something, to go out, to join the world.

I’m drifting. Yes, I have Plans A through D, but I’m not working them as much as I could be or should be. Days slip past and I’ll be damned if I know where they go. Well I know where some of them go: Netflix is a great time suck. I knit so that I feel like I’m still doing something productive, but seriously, just how many cowls and scarves can one woman wear?

I’m not writing this for advice, or pity or help. I’m writing this after laying in bed for 20 minutes, then getting up to write about the uncertainty and anxiety and, yes, I’ll say it, depression, to write them out of my head so that I don’t spend the next few hours letting it all play out in front of my minds eye again, so that I might get to sleep without special teas or herbal supplements or drugs.

It might be working. My eyes are getting that slightly sandpapery feeling they get when I’m really ready to sleep. Of course, they also feel like that when I’m ready to have a good cry, so who knows.

Allons-y.

I’m sick, aka NaBloPoMo cop out

Well, I didn’t post yesterday, so I guess I don’t win the non-existent prize for blogging every day this month.

Shrug.

I just didn’t feel like it, between having some virus or another, getting a headache from the fumes from the bathtub refinishing and being in the grips of what is likely just the monthly hormone imbalance. I spent most of yesterday and today curled up on the couch knitting and watching Doctor Who.

I watched the 50th anniversay special. I’m not sure yet if I liked it or not; I’m going to have to watch it again and weigh in later. First impressions:

  • they gave John Hurt all the good lines
  • the only thing that is stopping Clara from being my least favourite companion of the reboot is the fact that she’s (now) a teacher with a motorcycle
  • I kinda want Rose back. And I really want River back.
  • Is it just me, or did the portrayal of Elizabeth the First seem a tad, well, messy and all over the place?
  • Feeling a bit let down by how the previous doctors where integrated.
Can’t wait for the Christmas special with Peter Capaldi. I’ve seen him in Neverwhere and Torchwood, and while I’m sure the teenage fangirls would disagree with me, I think he’s going to bring something interesting to the role.
 
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In other news, it snowed here today which made me happy, and made me like a little kid jumping and skipping around the living room. I like snow.

blech

tardisIt was day spend trying to head a cold off before it got too much of a foothold. I watched Doctor Who while knitting a Tardis glove; I’m going through the all of the new Doctors again and am just finished the Jones years. I’m kind of surprised how many of them I’d missed, but then again Martha has never been my favourite companion.