Who I Texted Today (November 5th)

  • A friend from my current job, still at my current job

  • A friend from high school

  • A different friend from my current job

  • My sister

  • My other sister

  • My trainer

  • Another different friend from my current job

  • A group chat with my sister and her boyfriend

 
  • My friend from elementary school

  • Two recruiters

  • My dad

  • A friend from my current job who recently got a new job

  • A friend from an old job who recently got a new job

  • A friend from middle school

  • A guy I hooked up with a year ago

  • A friend from university

 

Amsterdam March 13th

In the morning, I woke up and tried to find my bearings within the Amsterdam Map. I had no food or milk so I made a Nespresso and stayed in bed reading and watching Netflix until 1 or 2. I still felt burned by the shit attack from the day before. When I eventually could not wait any longer to eat, I left the apartment and walked to Bar Basquiat which was this cute ass cafe where locals and American Masters students were eating. The menu was in Dutch so I ordered a latte and what sounded like a New York pastrami sandwich which ended up being open faced and good. You know it’s good when it has those crispy fried onions on it. I decided to walk around until I found a store where I could pick up a souvenir and then a grocery store so I could find some food for the next day. I aim big. This proved more difficult than I thought so I decided to go to the zoo instead.

It was a Sunday so everything was closing at 5pm (fair) and I couldn’t figure out that the entrance to the zoo was at the farther east corner of where I was. When I eventually got there, it was too late to do anything cool so I just walked around for a bit and stopped and watched the flamingos. 10/10. I wanted to go to Microbia but that would have to wait for another trip which would have to wait until I wasn’t poor again from this trip.

I kept walking around and the sun was setting making everything look pretty but I still needed groceries so I walked to an Albert Heijn that was nearby (kinda like their Loblaws if they were smaller and more classy.) I was a bit overwhelmed mostly because I can’t read Dutch. But I bought some mango smoothie thing that I thought was orange juice, some fluffy buns, a cucumber, oranges and bananas, some chocolate and some milk to put in the Nespresso in the morning. I was confident in myself for having the wherewithal to have cash on me. I walked around a bit more before feeling light headed then light headed back to the Airbnb. I put the stuff away then got dressed again to go to Terry and Jake’s place to have pizza for dinner. I picked up wine on the way and took the tram which was a straight shot to theirs. We ate and chatted and drank wine and then I took another Uber home. This guy was way less chatty, thank God. I stayed up a bit later watching Netflix but knew I had to sleep because I had plans to go to a class at the university for a program I was looking into the next day.

When I woke up, I took it easy and stayed in bed and ate some buns and oranges and espresso. I finished off some reading and took a shower then got all ready for class like it was my first day. The tram to the school was fast so I got there with time to kill. The campus is right on the canal so when I came out of the building’s bathroom to wash my hands, this giant window overlooked the back of a restaurant with a patio and these three tourist-looking guys looked over at me. Not sure if they could see anything with the window reflection but it made me laugh a lot.

Then I went into the class and introduced myself to the TA and this American student and everyone was nice and largely ignored me. The class was sitting around this big conference table and working away on their computers or on Instagram. They did presentations on their projects that were on maps and measuring social media metrics. It was intimidating for me even though the class was being collaborative and nice. They encouraged each other and asked questions about their projects. I saw that the American student had colour-coordinated notes and to-do lists when I was creeping her binder.

It got a bit passive aggressive at times and reminded me of work. Which can be passive aggressive. We finished early and I thanked the prof who was from New Hampshire and smart and nice. Because I was leaving early I had some extra time before my dinner reservation (for 1) at RIJKS, the restaurant attached to the museum. It has a Michelin star so that was a first. I walked around more but realized I couldn’t just waste time by walking so I wandered into this little bar on a corner somewhere near the museum. I was nervous at first because it was divey and weird and had peanut shells all over the floor and two old guys chatting but the bartender was hot so I committed. He also looked like he was 20. He was 18. I saw that they had Palm beer so ordered one and took out my postcards and wrote to friends back home. I finished my thank you card for my Airbnb host. Then I finished my drink and the bartender came over and saw that my ID was from Ontario and he chatted to me about how he went to high school in Ottawa. I was just excited that a blond boy was talking to me. Pathetic, girl.

We had been chatting for a while when I realized I was late so we had a long drawn out goodbye which had me walking in the wrong direction to get to the restaurant. I was already late so I doubled back and kept walking until I saw the giant museum and went under the giant pass towards the back where the I Amsterdam sign is. I ran in right at 7:30 on the dot and gave the host my coat. He gave me a coat check ticket and we walked in together pretending like I hadn’t just run the last five minutes. I told him I was honoured to eat there and he responded “No! Don’t be. You’re always welcome here.” Lol. I sat down and this guy in a suit came over and started talking to me in English really quickly. I ordered a dark and stormy and some water and they brought over this single piece of avocado dusted with this brown stuff on top of a bed of inedible mushrooms.

I ordered a few really great things like this little mussel and maybe scallop-filled dumpling in a green sauce. Then this other dish had asparagus and nuts and goat cheese. It was always going to be weird eating alone at a fancy spot. Everyone was with their friends or having a business meeting except one guy who was on his computer but he might have worked for the restaurant so he gets a pass. All the servers were young, professional and super relaxed. I got a couple of texts which took me away from being a loser in peace. I finished eating and payed so I could walk a little north to the Red Light District to see what was going on there.

I’m bad at directions so got lost on the way but once I found it, I was relieved to have it knocked off my list of things I felt compelled to see. I felt weird staring at young, almost naked women through windows while walking alone. They did at some points seem like they were having fun scrolling through their phones. Millenials. It started to rain so I headed back to the Airbnb. I passed a few cheese and dessert shops on the way that I wanted to visit but they looked too full of people. This was an alone night. I saw a tattoo shop and debated getting a small one for fun (and to piss off my parents) but this feeling passed quickly. I must be maturing. I found the right tram home and chilled once I got in.

My stomach was doing all sorts of flips and turns all week so I liked being at the Airbnb so I could be close to a private washroom at all times. The next day was a Tuesday and I got up earlier than normal (9am) to pack up my shit and go back to Terry and Jake’s for my last night and eventually the Jessie Ware concert. I organized my time well and was out right on queue in the morning. I trammed over with my stuff to their place and had a quick coffee with Jake (Terry was at work again.) We made plans for my day. He made his recommendations and I was off. I saw these cute shoes in the window of a store nearby their place and just walked in and chatted with a sales guy who physically put them on my feet and buckled them up. It was romantic? I bought them, obviously, and he kept them at the desk so I could pick them up on my way home.

I tried taking the tram again but decided to get off to try to locate this magical store I had found earlier in the week where I was able to load my tram card, buy stamps AND send my postcards all in one go. I wasn’t able to so I bought a bagel instead. Then I walked a bit more and eventually got to the RIJKS museum. I hadn’t had enough of it when at the restaurant of the same ilk, so I asked Jake if it was worth it. He had no opinion. As someone with a lot of opinions, I respected this take.

Once there, everyone who worked there kept reminding me that they closed at 5 and that it was already 3 and was I really sure I wanted to pay for the price of admission to only be there for an hour and a half before they ushered everyone out. I guess it wasn’t obvious that I am very uncultured and don’t like to hang out in museums for over an hour. It’s not just that they start announcing that people need to leave at 5 but they will personally make you leave at 4:50 pm to make sure the place is empty by 5. So efficient. It was a very huge place though and the floors were organized by date with the oldest art being on the bottom floor. Smart. It was beautiful and crazy. I put my earbuds in and just walked around. I saw this giant Rembrandt painting and all these other beautiful ones. I loved it. By the end, I was feeling a bit tightly wound and pressed. I can only be inside a museum for so long. I was also thinking about the shoes I needed to pick up before the store closed by 8 or 6 and I wanted to go to this fancy hotel bar I had seen a couple days prior.

Once 4 hit, I left and walked to Tune or Tunes in the Conservatorium hotel. It’s the kind of place that has doormen at multiple entrances so you know it’s out of my price range. The server was nice and very Dutch and she recommended that I try these gin and tonics that come in these huge glass goblets that look like fish bowls. I ordered one with Dutch gin (on brand), oranges and a bunch of cilantro which sounds weird but tasted good. I must try putting a handful of cilantro in all my drinks. I hung out at this fancy bar for an hour or so and listened to this American guy talk to the servers about Coachella.

I paid and left and walked through their fancy shopping street by the hotel to Vondelpark where I felt comfortable and like I knew my way around. I picked my shoes up and realized I still had a postcard to send and bought a stamp then dropped my postcard off in one of their orange post boxes. I couldn’t understand which slot to put the card in so I guessed. It was pretty exciting using one of those like a local. I went back to Terry’s and started packing up my shit and took a shower in preparation for the night ahead. I knew I’d be leaving early the next day. I took the tram to the Paradiso and waited in line to pay for a temporary membership fee then I checked my coat (and paid a Euro by debit card, lol) and walked in just as Jessie Ware finished her first song (I’m guessing, who knows what number song it was.) Everyone was so tall there so I stood up on this riser next to the light booth with a bunch of other regular sized shorties. There were so many lesbians there. At one point Jessie Ware called these two ladies onto the stage and one of them proposed and it was so sweet, I teared up a bit. After that, I got a beer. Then the show ended and I grabbed my coat, some cash and bought a shirt from the merch spot.

I texted Terry because they wanted to meet up for a drink for my last night but we were tired so when we met up we decided to just head back to their apartment to eat leftover fajitas they made for dinner. It was nice of them to have made so many fajitas. Terry made whiskey sours and we stayed up late talking AGAIN and then we went to bed all yawning. I made sure I had packed everything and left all the pot I had bought there. In the morning, I woke up at the same time as Terry and got ready to leave. She left for work so I hung out with Jake and had coffee before leaving for the airport. I had an easy, fuss-free bus ride and managed to pick up a croissant from Albert Heijn before getting into the airport itself. I checked in with time to spare so I went to the McDonalds in the lounge and then went to another Albert Heijn to use up my last Euros on water and chocolate.

I waited at the gate for a minute and boarded. The flight was longer but felt shorter which never happens when heading home. I got in and took the subway where my dad picked me up and brought me to my sister’s.


Unemployment for the Unencumbered

After three years working a fulfilling and exciting job with an organization I loved, I was politely told that there was not enough money in their budget to justify my position there anymore. I was upset but ultimately understood where they were coming from and at least could somewhat get their need to cut costs and really focus on their most important roles and programs. To be honest, I was aware of my dispensability and was grateful for the time I did have there as I learned a lot and loved my coworkers. This layoff left me a shit ton of time to think about what I wanted to do next and to apply to jobs that fit my skills and experience. As an adult, I had never had an extended period of time off from work besides like three weeks I spent in South Africa for my brother’s wedding. While I was nervous about the prospect of not having anywhere to go in the morning, I was mainly concerned about how new and different it felt to not go to work while not being on vacay. My ideas of unemployment were judgmental and weird and I just figured that if you were mentally and physically capable of it, you had to go to work everyday. Lol, groundbreaking.

It’s worth mentioning that I had money saved, an RRSP that I couldn’t figure out how to transfer to my bank, parents who would bail me out of any and all financial binds if needed and I pay very little in rent. The reason my unemployment was stress free and fun all the time was because I had time to apply for jobs and interview, no children to support and am very privileged. I realize that a large majority of people were probably not experiencing being let go from their favourite jobs in the same way that I did.

I spent the first week having one chore or large goal I tried to achieve before the end of every day. Most days this chore was to grocery shop and make myself dinner but I also managed to read a couple of books and renew my health card which had been on my list for a while. Instead of putting it off longer, I had a late breakfast, bought a coffee and waited in line for maybe half an hour on a Tuesday afternoon and then had the remaining evening to do whatever I wanted. My bedtime changed to whenever I finished watching Breaking Bad with my roommate. I got up between the ideal hours of 10 and 11 am every day and felt the ease and comfort of laying in bed until I was so hungry I needed to force myself to make eggs and bacon and toast and half an avocado. The breakfasts alone make being unemployed kinda worth it. What other time besides then would I have managed to finish a carton of eggs a week?

Whenever my parents needed someone to fix something at their house or be somewhere in their stead, I was tasked with doing that. Normally I’d bring a book and buy a coffee and make a solid half day out of it because I genuinely had nothing better to do. Other times, my sister’s boyfriend would tag me in to babysit their 9 month old by taking her to the park so he could get chores done around the house. This gave me more time to bond with my niece and get to see what it was like for parents to take their kids to the park in the middle of the day. We mostly just chilled on a blanket and watched kids do their day camp activities. Occasionally, she would stray from the blanket to go look at a dog but people were generally pretty nice to us and it was all footloose and fancy free. Everyone at the park in the middle of a weekday in the summer is happy to be there and we were the poster children.

Most days I spent at home, applying for jobs and actually reading the job descriptions instead of hastily firing off 5-6 applications in a row to job postings with the same job title. Whenever an HR person asked me to make room in my schedule for a phone screen or in-person interview, I was able to take any slot they had. I wasn’t pretending to go for lunch and instead chilling in the back lobby of my office building because it was quiet, cupping my phone so close to my face in case someone from my work walked by and overheard me talking about salary expectations. I wasn’t working full days staring at a computer screen and coming home only to stare at a different, smaller computer screen to complete my various work applications. I was thoughtful and methodical about the kind of work I was applying for.

I spent a normal amount of time inside and went on more walks than I can compute. Everyday I walked somewhere because it was free, usually nice out and again, I had literally nowhere to be. And if I did, I’d walk there. I didn’t have a metropass (a necessity for me since I work downtown.) I made my own lunch and dinner every day. And they’d be good. I’d spend time finding a recipe, then finding all the cheapest places to go to buy specific ingredients from that recipe then I’d spend a couple of hours shopping and cooking and by the end of the day, I’d have enough food to feed myself for at least a couple more days.

I know this sounds dramatic, but I also became a better friend. With my spare time, I contacted a list of people I had lost touch with who I wanted to make an effort to see once that summer before we got too busy to keep staying in touch. Because I wasn’t doing anything interesting besides, like, enjoying my life, I had nothing exciting to talk about during catch ups with these friends. I asked thoughtful questions about their lives and never once felt compelled to talk about how much I had slept that week. I was also able to visit my friends on their lunch breaks at work. I never really needed to go downtown because the only reason I ever went was for work or going out after work so I was once again in a position to head down there. I met my friends for a bit, didn’t keep them too long from their works and then either hopped on the subway or walked an hour back home.

I became creative with how to spend my money (so I, like, didn’t) and basically thought up every free thing I could do in the city. Most of these are repetitive and can feel like more trouble than they’re worth but being temporarily sort of broke encourages creativity. You have the time to think up interesting shit to do and then you have the time to actually do it.

I flossed every night and had a nighttime routine. I did everything I promised myself I’d do every day if only I had more time. I don’t think that my thoughts on this are particularly insightful or smart but our collective obsession with work and finding our life’s purpose through work baffles me. I understand that it’s what we do for most of our waking hours. And the rest of our life does tend to centre around preparing for and winding down from the work we do.

Instead of adopting Finland and other Scandinavian European countries’ work customs about working less but more efficiently because you’re sleeping more or have more of a work/life balance, I want to just not work ever. This is a very stupid thing that I’ve said to my bosses in the past when they’ve asked me what I’m interested in doing long term for the places I’ve worked. There is a moment of surprise and eventually a short lecture about how I have to contribute to the world in some way and can’t just unsubscribe from life. But in between these two reactions, occasionally I’ll see a flash of recognition in their faces. They know what I mean. They also love to not work and would appreciate the time to rewatch all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad with their roommates. But no one can ever admit that.



Amsterdam March 12th

March 12th

We walked slowly to the Airbnb and waited for the guy to drop off the keys. When we got them, we toured around for a minute then went to meet Terry’s friend, Amy (from Foodhallen) to get dinner at Roest. Right now, I’m at this small place called Café Chaos watching the cutest and grossest couple drink, eat peanuts and make out. It’s disgusting. I’m close enough to hear them speaking Dutch and the sounds they make while kissing. I like how people make out in the open here. It’s usually the girl initiating and putting their skinny arms around their bf’s neck. The bf always seems pretty engaged and into it too, just never the initiator. It’s weird to not tip here. They have Palm beer at this bar.

Also at Roest, we had all this vegetarian food (and fish) because it was their Caribbean vegetarian week. Who knows. We were drinking white wine pretty consistently in these small cups and I felt tired because we had been out all day. Eating a ton of food then walking around for hours can be more effort than it leads on. We ate and drank more and went to leave, but then we discovered this second bar in the back of the first bar. It wasn’t hidden or anything, you just had to pass the bathrooms to notice it at first. There was loud music and a bunch of people from Manchester there (we could tell because of how they kept saying “I’m frum MANCHESTUH” and “Sorry, luv” whenever they passed you) piling in and out of the second bar so we decided to give it a quick look. There was a giant net on the ceiling and a DJ playing like EDM or some shit. There was also this giant double decker bus that had been gutted and replaced with chairs to lounge in and roll joints from on the upper level. We went up there and creeped on the people on the dance floor below us.

We decided to stay so we put our coats in a locker (that was so handy and cost 2 Euros, why isn’t every country as efficient as the Netherlands?), bought a final beer and started dancing in the middle of the crowd of very drunk and high Mancunians (www.google.com). It was 8pm on a Friday. My stomach started to turn and I imagined the beer wasn’t sitting well with all the cheese and fish I had consumed all day and then the jostling I was doing on the dance floor. Terry mentioned that her stomach felt off too but we kept dancing. We thought we could just dance our stomach problems away. We were wrong.

Eventually, we decided that we would need more alcohol or drugs to justify staying there but as soon as we left the second bar with the double decker bus and walked to the bathrooms, I realized I urgently needed to shit. I went into the last stall and realized there was no toilet paper. Great. As soon as I sat down, there was a piece of string on the wall with all these empty toilet paper rolls. They were laughing at me. At one point there must have been eight full ones. It was still early on in the night.

I heard Terry puking in the stall next to mine and felt badly until I realized that my problems were bigger than her. I took a last quick look around the stall and panicked and started rifling through my purse. It didn’t have anything I could use besides a comedy flyer that Terry’s boyfriend, Jake, had given me the night before because he didn’t have anywhere to put it. He handed it to me and I just took it because I didn’t want to throw it away and offend the person handing them out. Smart. I decided this would be a good thing to use as toilet paper replacement. It wasn’t. It was hard and sharp and stupid. I used it to the best of my ability, mortified at myself but weirdly proud of my creativity and threw it into the water and energy efficient Dutch toilet. When I got up to flush, I turned around and it was just sitting there, sad and crumpled. I also had a different vantage point of the stall and was able to notice a single full roll of toilet paper that seemed like it was hidden behind the toilet. I marvelled at how dumb I was because this was the same vantage point you have when you first enter the stall. But I got over my stupidity and used the actual toilet paper then got up to finally flush the toilet. This nightmare was almost over.

At this point, I’ve been in the stall for at least five minutes, a suspiciously long time for a night out. The bar seemed to pick up and get busier and more full of people from the UK and their drugs. When I finally got up to flush, I noticed there was a giant gold chain with a fake bar of gold at the end of it as the flushing mechanism. All the toilets in this bathroom have different, weird flushing mechanisms that are supposed to be funny, I guess. I couldn’t appreciate the humour in the situation when I started gently pulling on the chain which felt plastic and cheap. It jammed a couple of times which did not surprise me so I jiggled it a bit. Then a lot. Then I started to panic more because I was looking at the toiler bowl and my cardboard comedy bar flyer. I could not appreciate the humour in the situation. I didn’t think it was ironic, I was scared. Finally, in complete shock at how stupid I was to have used a bar bathroom in the first place when I was feeling sick, I pulled on the flusher and the chain came off in my hand. But not before flushing one last time as a little gift to me, after all I had done for this bar. Which was nothing. I decided this was good enough for me, even though the comedy flyer was still just chilling at the top of the bowl, basically unmoved. I shrugged and breathed slowly out of my nose. Whatever.


I left the bathroom and tried to divert anyone’s attention from the last stall. A short, brown haired girl from Manchester walked into my stall and I couldn’t muster up the energy to feel any embarrassment and just continued to wash my hands like I hadn’t just taken a shit in a public bathroom and covered it in a piece of cardboard like that would solve everything. She turned around and walked out and made eye contact with me in the mirror. She looked disgusted and disappointed in me. It was at this point that I realized I was truly growing up because I felt almost no shame and mostly just kept washing my hands and laughed.

We left and walked to a bar inside a parking garage next to a canal. It sounds less cool than it actually was. So many places are next to canals in Amsterdam because it’s pretty much all canals everywhere. The water was calm and the air was cold but we had a couple of beers there before we decided to head back to Terry’s. We ran to a tram and got in around midnight. Jake was still feeling sick but he stayed up and chatted with us while Terry made us ginger, lemon and honey tea. This should have settled my stomach but it kept growling like I was hungry or something. I wasn’t, I was just having another travel stomach attack but was too polite to use Terry’s bathroom. She asked if I wanted to, in the most considerate and least condescending way possible but I was tired and really wanted to be by myself. When on vacation in foreign countries, I either can’t shit for three day stretches or have constant diarrhea. For Amsterdam, it was the second.

I called an uber, which felt exciting in a different country, and got my bags. All I wanted to do was crash at the Airbnb but the uber driver kept saying that I looked like Rose from Titanic and trying to remember her name in real life. He also kept mentioning that Leo DiCaprio was in Amsterdam for the G8 summit. I faked interest in his weird obsession with the actors from Titanic. Eventually, I got creeped out and told him that I was heading to another friend’s apartment instead of to an Airbnb by myself but he kept chatting about how he lived outside of the city and asking if I wanted to go there with him sometime. Uh, no thanks. He offered me a cigarette and I accepted because I was on vacation but then when I tried to roll down the back window, he said it didn’t work. So he pulled over to let me into the passenger seat. I felt weird about this but figured it was too late to say I didn’t want to sit up front and I wanted to avoid any rudeness. I was feeling increasingly upset and bothered by him which wasn’t helped by the fact that he was saying “You’re sweet like chocolate and honey.” All this after the nightmare of breaking some innocent restaurant/bar’s toilet. When he eventually got us to the place, he asked if this was the last time I’d see him. I grabbed my bags from the trunk and said “Yup. bYe” quickly and loudly and shut the trunk. I rushed up the stairs of the apartment building until I got into the unit where I took one of the more needed shits of my life. My second in a few hours.


After showering with just the hand soap available in the bathroom, I called and Facetimed everyone I knew at home. I spoke to Sam for two hours while he was working late. He made me feel better and worse about my life and told me stories about his trip to Amsterdam. I fell asleep pretty quickly after that.


Thanks

I just had five teeth pulled to make space for new ones and braces for five years (with a space maker and four retainers, one of which I still wear.) I floss everyday with floss sticks and the string kind. I brush twice, sometimes three times a day with an expensive electric toothbrush that I got for Christmas. I go to the dentist twice a year and research new ways to whiten my teeth regularly. I use whitestrips and I’m onto oil pulling with coconut oil where I put it in my mouth for twenty minutes every day to remove bacteria in the spaces in between my teeth. I remember as a kid, my dad hoarded toothbrushes. I collect them now too. But anyone can do it really.

Amsterdam March 11th

March 11th

I’ve been here since Thursday last week and it has been a total trip. Everything is weird or fun or cool. My first day I napped for three hours because I didn’t really sleep on the plane. Then when I woke up, I went for a little walk around Vondelpark in the rain. It was romantic. There were tons of people around with their dogs and bikes. I was hungry because I hadn’t eaten anything and drank a bunch of my friend’s boyfriend’s tea so I went to this bar where this hot server with a bun was nice to me. The servers here are cool and not overly obsequious to you because they aren’t tipped.

After I went to the restaurant and had a Negroni and I met up with my friend who I am staying with, Terry, her boyfriend, Jake and her friend Amy, at Foodhallen which is this upscale looking food market in this bigger mall-movie theatre deal. It was sweet. We just walked around everywhere and I got pork buns and spring rolls and this good beer and we all shared our food and chatted about our lives and caught up on everything we missed because I hadn’t seen Terry in years. They talked about their jobs and how they all seemed to be enjoying living in Amsterdam.

There’s this little kid at the restaurant that I’m at that has the bluest eyes and the curliest, cutest hair and his face is so sweet. Parents don’t stop their lives to have kids here, they just take them to bars and restaurants and let them run loose and watch the show. It is entertaining. That’s how I want to be as a parent, just watching my kids do dumb shit accidentally. This dad just keeps grabbing him and playing with him. The food here is great, I can hardly deal.

After Foodhallen, we came home and drank tea and talked which was a common theme for chilling at Terry and Jake’s. He makes black tea and she made ginger and lemon and honey tea for our sore throats. They have these new, cool Macbooks that are grey and matte and smaller.

I slept soundly that night. Then I got up on Friday and Terry went to work so I chatted with Jake for a bit before I left and walked to Jordaan, this chill area that my sister lived in when she went to school here. So I was supposed to fill up my tram card, get an adaptor that I could use at my Airbnb and also buy a sim card for my phone. The tram card charging machine was broken, the sim cards confused me and I bought the wrong charger from this computer repair shop because the guy working there was chatty and fun. Note to my future self or kids, just buy a USB charging thing which would have worked fine. So I walked to Winkel 43 where I had the most delicious apple tart thing with whipped cream on it and a latte. I didn’t even put sugar in my latte. They’re pretty much famous for this apple tart, which is an amazing thing to be famous for. It was all so good and I didn’t get sick of it even though it was this big ass piece of pie and like completely covered in this whipped cream they use from an actual whipped cream machine. They just let it run over these plates of pie like those industrial milk machines they have at university food halls. But it’s whipped cream.

Then I went to Cafe Thijssen and got a piece of bread and some tomato soup with basil in it which sounds pretty basic but was good. The best part of it was watching this server behind the bar telling off a tourist for telling them off for taking too long to serve him his tuna sandwich. I’ll never understand because it’s too nuanced for me but he didn’t want to pay for it because he said it took them half an hour to make. The server literally pulled up the receipts and was like, well actually, it’s been 15 minutes, so please relax, man. He made a good point for himself and why they shouldn’t have to comp the bill. They even offered him a free drink and to box it up for him but the was was like, what am I gonna do with a free drink, I have some boring museum shit to go to. I can appreciate a server who stands up for themselves.

Also servers just take their breaks at the bar, sitting and eating around everyone else (me). They check their phones while they’re serving and sometimes, the restaurant’s app is on their phones so they have to use them while serving. It’s genius. Why doesn’t everywhere operate as efficiently as Amsterdam does? Everything is progressive and cool and we’re all just lagging behind in their wake.


I got an aperol spritz and a latte at the place that I’m at now because I’m living my best life like Oprah. I’m also trying to stay here as long as humanly possible and feel weird about not having a drink so I’ve peed a thousand times since I sat down. It’s okay, I asked these kids’ dads to watch my stuff (this journal and my aperol spritz).

After I left the Jordaan neighbourhood area I walked to this museum called Electric Ladyland that I probably could have figured out was closed for renovations, but because I’m easily distracted and probably saw a duck somewhere, I lost focus and didn’t realize. My alternative plan was to walk into a random dispensary/smoking cafe and buy some pot that I didn’t even end up smoking. That’s the weird thing about Amsterdam, people think it’s all about the Red Light District and smoking weed, but no one actually does those things regularly. And if they do, they’re subtle and don’t act all touristy about it like I did. I walked back to Terry and Jake’s with the pot burning a hole in my pocket but they weren’t home so I just took a nap. Naps featured heavily on this trip because I walked all day and am in poor physical shape.

My plan was to shower and get dressed (lol, as if) and to go to a museum quickly before filling one of the 3 one person reservations I made at Michelin starred restaurants (or restaurants recommended by my rich sister.) Being this alone and independent is exhausting. The restaurant I most wanted to visit, probably because it’s called RIJKS in all caps and I didn’t know how to pronounce it properly, called and mentioned that their power was down so they would be featuring a more limited menu. They generously offered to reschedule my reservation (must have been tough to move a 1 top to a separate 1 top on a different night) so I was off the hook. I rejigged my schedule and watched Netflix until I left for the night.

I walked through Vondelpark again, which never got old, and maneuvered to the museum district where I easily located the Van Gogh museum because it was obvious as shit. Terry and Jake asked if I wanted to meet them at a comedy show later that night so I processed this invite while looking at fancy post-impressionist art. I learned about how Van Gogh was Dutch but wrote long letters to his brother in French (weird) and how he cut off his ear while having a fight with his BFF, Paul Gauguin (dramatic and weird). Van Gogh spent all of spring trying to convince Paul to come to this artist’s retreat at his house in Arles in the South of France so they could paint and be artistic together. Paul kept being like “No, dude, it’ll be weird and you’re so intense.” But Van Gogh insisted and Paul finally gave in but they spent the entire summer basically cussing each other out and making fun of each other’s art whenever they could until Van Gogh threatened to kill Paul then himself and Paul was like “Whoa, you need to relax. I’m gonna go for a walk to get away from you so we can BOTH calm down.” And then Van Gogh just cut off his own ear then gave it to a lady of the night who worked at a brothel he would go to with Paul. There were some hallucinations and a lot of mental illness there that I wasn’t clear about but that was the gist of it. Who knew? Learning new things about Van Gogh every day.

After this huge Van Gogh epiphany, I scooted through the rest of the museum sort of preoccupied with the ear story but then was caught off guard by how much I loved the gift shops (plural). There were multiples. And they all included coasters and prints and erasers with the Sunflowers and Starry Night and all the self portraits on them. Always judge a museum by its gift shop. In the case of the Van Gogh museum, this gift shop was a highlight. Next time, I may just go there and avoid the deeply unsettling personal epiphanies I had while learning about Van Gogh’s depression and mania.

After I left, I waited for a bus to the comedy show in the rain for a while then got there and saved us seats. Heineken is like 2.50$ for a pint there so it was all I drank pretty much. It was fun being there and meeting all of Terry’s cool friends from work. One girl’s job is to just be a trend-observer. After the comedy show, Terry and Jake locked up their bikes and we went to a champagne bar and drank a bunch of cocktails and champagne before walking home. Jake made a cheese, bread and cracker plate with this Swiss cheese he brought from his farm at his parents’ house and we chatted until 3am. They were the best hosts. I slept soundly again that night.

The next day I got up with Terry, who had the day off and we walked around because the trams were running weirdly at that point. We went to the Pipe, a type of shopping district with a big market and we ate all the important and terrible for you Dutch food. Like Poffertjes (pronounced Potffert-jizz. No it isn’t.) and Stroopwaffels and this spinach and feta Turkish crepe. It was at this point that I faced a deeply upsetting personal setback that I can’t get into because it’s too embarrassing. But after dealing with it like an adult by sharing my crepe with Terry and complaining, we rallied and I bounced back pretty much immediately. Everyday problems can either seem so trivial and dumb on vacation or like you’re going to lose your shit and fall into a tailspin rapidly. I experienced both.

I bought some danishes and then we watched some ducks fight in a pond park. Our plan was to get to the Airbnb to pick up my keys and then to continue the day as usual and only go back to Terry’s when we were drunk and tired and to cab back with all of my luggage.


How to Kiss

I kiss like a goldfish eats. Leaning into the person I’m making out with like they’re food and trying to take in as much as I can in one gulp. I do whatever I want when I kiss. My kissing is gross. At the beginning of a relationship, I'm tentative but experimental. I don't want to reveal how disgusting I can be too soon, for fear of scaring them off. "Is this how you kiss?” “I’m a bit shy.” But I'm not, I want to get more in there. I want to taste what you ate for breakfast. I want to taste how you just brushed your teeth because you knew I would kiss you. I want to taste the cigarette we just shared. I especially want to taste the mix of drinks we've had tonight. What many guys I've dated think is gross, I can’t stop doing.

"Is this how you kiss?" they ask me after the second or third time we’ve kissed. I’ve stopped pretending. I have the sense and decency to look embarrassed, but I'm not. "Uhhh.....yeah. Sorry." I'm not sorry. From what I've seen, bad kissing has been portrayed in movies and TV as overaggressive, overzealous. Licking people's faces, shoving tongues unceremoniously into their kissing partner's mouth, lunging. It's easier to depict this as bad kissing form than using their teeth or thinking kissing is like multiple pecks on the mouth in a row for a few seconds. Or bad rhythm. Or a rigid jaw and mouth. To me, if the other person isn’t enthusiastic or is shy in their kissing technique or they don't open their mouth enough, I can't work with them. I can't get farther back. What am I supposed to do with you coming at me with pursed, tensed lips when all I need is open access to the amusement park that is your mouth? I like to venture as far in as I possibly can. I still can’t understand why this is bad.

An old friend of mine used to tell me that there aren’t good and bad kissers, just compatible and incompatible ones. I think I agree with this sentiment because no matter how you kiss, there’s someone out there that kisses the same. It’s nice to believe in this way of thinking.

People have complained to me about my kissing before and I appreciate that. I react well to constructive criticism but what I think is going on are just different tastes. Sometimes guys will kiss me the way I kiss them as a reward, to let me know they’re paying attention and that they care. So I’m aware they know how to do it. I always notice the difference immediately. My first boyfriend said that we kissed messily when we first started dating. I don’t even remember that because I was too focused on how good the kisses were. Those messy kisses for him were eye opening and new territory for me. His were always the best because he took my intensity and harnessed it with his kissing style. We both worked at our kisses throughout the relationship and only got better as time went on.

I had never had sex, despite having lived away from home at school for four years. My kissing experience there was limited and with two guys, one in my first week who kissed me while I was passed out in his arms in the backyard of the kegger I was at. Yeah.

The second was with a friend. After what was possibly the drunkest night of my life, I threw up in his roommate's bathroom after taking a big hit from a bong and then he walked me next door to my house where I continued to throw up in the kitchen sink and garbage and then eventually into my own garbage, while I hung upside down from my bed. He patted my back and nursed me back to health then I went downstairs to the bathroom to brush my teeth. The next morning I noticed that my attempt at brushing my teeth involved smearing toothpaste on the cupboards and mirror in the bathroom. When I went back upstairs, we kissed for hours. It was the first uninterrupted kiss I had ever had in my life and I must have been starved for it. I grabbed his face so hard and pressed it into mine.

I didn't know it at the time, but when I was 22 I would get a crash course on kissing the right way, my way, from my first serious boyfriend.

We spent the first few months of our friendship giving each other long hugs before we went to work. The hugs turned into trying to subtly touch each others’ hands or arms in his car but never going further. This touching turned into us watching A&E, The Food Network and TLC shows like we were actually retaining anything that was happening on the tv. It was mostly a vehicle for us to sit close to each other while he brushed my hair and traced my ears with his fingers. When I leaned into him, I could hear his heart beating fast. I asked if it was because we were watching the conjoined twins Abby and Brittany and if the way they finished each other's thoughts but out loud was freaking him out. He said no. After doing this a couple of days in a row, the tension was too much and I turned my face to him and we kissed for the first time. The buildup to this moment was so huge that it could only have been a letdown. But it wasn't, it was the best. This opened a floodgate of psychotic levels of kissing that we took to his car, behind buildings, in the backs of restaurants, in my bathroom. Literally anywhere that provided the slightest bit of privacy, we would be kissing there. For hours. This was the only way I knew how to express myself sexually. But it felt like enough at the time. I could feel myself getting hot but I could just grab his arm and pull him towards me and would be instantly satisfied. Any moment we weren't kissing was wasted to me, so I made up for years of lost time. I kissed like I had a point to prove and that point was that I loved kissing.

Since then, I’ve been leading poor, reserved people into unchartered kissing territory. My mouth opens so wide that my jaw unlocks and makes a noise. I probe with my tongue and pry their mouths open so their teeth don’t go anywhere near mine. My kisses are like I’m trying to absorb your whole life with my mouth. I kiss like a pug sneezes. With my hands in your hair, I pull you closer into my face, where I want you to stay for as long you’re willing to kiss me.

Vancouver May

Here are some observations about Vancouver after visiting for 4 days:

  • The coffee is good

  • Places play a lot of Ed Sheeran and Bon Iver

  • Servers are either really nice or cold

  • Everyone has a beard

  • Every road leads to the beaches or the sea wall

  • My phone connects to Wifi everywhere

  • Sushi is A++++++++

  • Grocery stores are different but I can’t put my hand on why

  • Maybe it’s their layout

  • There is kombucha everywhere: at coffee shops, pharmacies, the market, all over

  • People bike and play guitar

  • The bus system is easy but doesn’t hit as many places as Toronto

  • People are more chill here

  • Everyone focuses on themselves so they care less about you. They don’t care about you at all

May 27th

I got to Vancouver last night. Cara picked me up from the airport and brought me to her gorgeous apartment. It looks like a Renovation Hardware catalogue and like she never takes shits in it. I’m obsessed with it here. There are trees as far as the eye can see and it’s sunny and no one walks around.

What I did today:

Got brunch with Cara in Gastown at the Birds and the Beets. They had kombucha on tap. We ate our egg sandwiches and chatted about our career goals over lattes. Then I split up from Cara and walked the seawall to Spokes Bike Rentals. I rented a bike and biked the seawall and Stanley Park until I got to the end and then I called my friend Bria and caught up with her. I returned the bike and walked to my roommate’s old neighbourhood then walked to the beachy area along the seawall again. I got lost so I chilled in a park for a minute and went on the swings and listened to Elton John. Then I found a ferry dock that was going to Granville Island. I walked around there for a while then had some wine at a cocktail bar by myself. I think I’ll walk a bit more, it’s still early and I’m young.

After the wine at Granville Island, I figured out how to take a bus back to Cara’s apartment. Granville is not really an island, you can walk there from Stanley Park. I was just too dumb to figure it out in the beginning. But the bus system was easier to figure out. I got home and was pretty tired so I took a little nap while Cara worked. We wanted to get dinner and it was getting late so she drove us to Kitsilano which is like fancy houses, stores and restaurants Central. We made it just in time to get sushi before the place closed. We got fried yams and rolls and the guys who worked there gave us this free avocado deal even though we were jerks for coming in so close to the time that they closed. Then we walked along Kitsilano beach and saw one of the top nicest sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was yellow and blue. We walked along the seawall around there for a bit then met up with Cara’s friend who is gorgeous, like Cara. Pretty sure she’s an Instagram model. She grew up in Vancouver and is very stylish. I can tell, even though I have no sense of style. We walked around for a bit and tried to get a drink on a patio somewhere but because of bylaws, they were all closing for the night so we just sat on this one patio and didn’t order anything. I bet the servers loved that. This lady and her friend were sitting across from us. She had a dog and they were drinking rosé (not the dog, he was drinking whiskey sours.) Right before we left, she just asked the server if he was single and when he said “yes”, she just gave him her card. It was bold and I loved it. We got pretty tired and Cara drove us home which was great. We crashed soon after and I watched Kimmy Schmidt and The Keepers.

May 28th

Cara and I got up slowly and got brunch at this place called the Mezcaleria. I got scrambled eggs with chorizo, coffee, fried beans, guacamole and salsa and it was exactly what I needed. We were planning to meet her friend at Wreck Beach (the nude beach at the University of British Columbia) so we drove there. The campus is great, in a big forest pretty much with big ass trees everywhere. It’s not that walkable but Cara always finds the best parking spots. They’re usually reserved for staff or cost money but she hasn’t gotten a ticket yet.

We walked down a million steps to Wreck Beach and talked about politicians we hate. We got there and there were all these naked old guys playing frisbee. Heaven. I really loved it there. The tide was low and far away so you had to walk through all these small water beds. It was cool, I saw a dead crab in one. We settled on a spot, then Cara’s friend Andy came by and told us there was more room somewhere else so we waited for twenty minutes and tried to find her. Cara’s other friends, these sisters who designed swimsuits and one of their boyfriends showed up. He was fully naked and so comfortable. All their friends were fit and toned. Tan. Their bodies were perfect and their boobs were all small and perky, pointing towards the sun. Of course, they were the sweetest. I went swimming with Andrea and this Polish guy. I think his name was Matthias. He was born the same year as me and he lived in New York and directed music videos. We talked about what we wanted to do with our lives. They gave me good advice that mostly centred around taking it easy, not being too hard on myself and being nice to your life. They suggested I move to Vancouver because they loved it there. It was hard to argue with them while we were lazing around in warm water, tanning our boobs.

We went back to the beach and lounged and dried off. It was gorgeous out all day and everyone was jazzed to be there and be naked. The women’s breasts were all so nice, I bought a margarita freezie from a topless lady. I was refreshed. Cara wanted to leave because it was getting hot and I think she burned her undertit. We had wanted to check out the Museum of Anthropology because the building was huge.

When we got there, we went to this exhibit that was the coolest place I’d ever seen. It was this dark room with white walls and all these Japanese characters were falling from the sky. We sat on the floor in the middle of the room, thinking that was the exhibit, just the floating Japanese characters but we’re idiots. The sign outside said that when the wall catches your shadow on the characters, they explode into what they represent or something related to them. Like snow or thunder or mountains or butterflies. It was so cool. We just played nonstop in this room. We had a ball when these other people came in and saw us waving our arms on these characters and dying when they exploded into gold rain. I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun. It was a great exhibit and then the museum closed so we had to sort of rush out of the other exhibits. We were just so jazzed though and on an art high until we got home. I took an epic shower where I rubbed all the sand off my feet and legs and found the random spots on my body where I missed putting sunscreen on.

I got changed and put my hair up and went to meet my old coworker, Dennis, and some of his friends in a park. We caught up and chatted and went to sushi with Cara. I always feel a bit like worlds collide when friends meet but it was nice for them to see each other. Dennis is so soft-spoken and smart. We had some good sushi with tuna belly and prawn tempura and I had a beer and it filled me up. We said goodbye and Cara and I went to the grocery store and bought chocolate for dessert. We tried to watch War Machine before bed but I was tired and I fell asleep right away. I got into the spare room bed and crashed.

This morning, we got up slowly again and Cara wanted to do some chores so I came here to Prado on Commercial Drive and got an iced latte and a breakfast ham, cheese and egg sandwich. I’m such a bitch when it comes to breakfast sandwiches. I always expect them to suck and they never suck. They’re always delicious. I think I’m learning a lesson about breakfast sandwiches here. I’m really happy I got to come to Vancouver. My roommate was right about me liking everywhere I've been.

I left Prado after I finished the latte and bought a pain au chocolat then I walked along Commercial Drive for a while until I decided to go back to Cara’s. She had some errands to run so we drove to the nail salon store and saw all these gel manicure dryers. Then she went to the bank and I walked along the water. I met back up with her and we drove to North Vancouver. It looked pretty industrial up there but we were only in one area for that bit. We shared a huge vegetable sandwich and some blueberry and raspberry pie from this sweet little pie spot. It was Cara’s idea. And this cool boutique that I read about online, Kiss and Makeup, was right next door so we went in there and looked at all the natural makeup and sunscreen. I bought Emma this Gastown candle.

The stuff there was fancy and nice. Perfect for the people who live in north Vancouver, who I heard were pretty wealthy. Cara and I drove to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and walked over it. I was scared of that because it moved when you stepped on it and there were people all over but once you got to the other side, there was this cool rainforest walk that was less densely populated and more calm. It smelled like trees and rain and fresh air in there. Everything was dark green. I think that’s my favourite colour. We did a treetop walk along these smaller bridges in the trees and then a cliff walk along this huge wall of granite. It scared me.

Then we decided to climb Grouse Mountain (the Grouse Grind!!!) against the wishes of the park signs saying it was closed because of snow and rocks falling. Cara insisted we do the climb anyway and I was put off because she told me not to bring my purse and just to have my phone, credit card and water bottle on me. It was fucking brutal. Cara charged ahead early on (even with a bum ankle) and I was breathing very heavily for the first quarter of it. It was marked in quarters and also out of 40 checkpoints. So I knew I was screwed when I got to 10/40 and definitely thought I was going to pass out or die. A couple of fast old guys passed me. They were sweating and said “It only gets worse from here.” Thanks, old guys. I bet life’s like that too.

I made it up slowly but tried to stay consistent, mostly because the old guys behind me were making me feel like I was betraying my youth by being so slow. I was behind these two foreign guys and their Canadian sounding friend. One of the foreign guys was super slow and I loved him. The other guy looked like Josh Lucas and smiled encouragingly at me, which helped. We eventually made it to the top where the steps were covered in melted snow so you’d be climbing and splashing around in ice water. When I passed this waterfall, the overspray hit me and was so cold and refreshing and it smelled like clean snow. It was beautiful. Getting to the top was great too. Cara had been waiting a while but we bought our tickets down (thank God) and had mojitos and watched the foreign guys eat these massive burgers and half chickens. We stayed for a bit and took some pics but my phone died on the way up so I couldn’t see my epic step count that day. It doesn’t matter, I know it was monumentally huge.

We took the gondola down, saw some sweet views and eagles flying around like they were surveying their land. We went over the bridge to Main street where we got vegetarian tacos from Banditas. I got a hibiscus flavoured margarita. We were exhausted. We drove back to Cara’s place (she was so sweet to drive me literally all over Vancouver and let me live with her for four days.) I met her roommate who is an IT consultant and chatted about his job for a while. Then I crashed in her room. I woke myself up a couple times from farting in my sleep and Cara, very sweetly, ignored that.

I woke up today a bit sad that I was leaving. It was raining too, so like the rest of the weekend, the weather matched my mood. It’s always hard to leave vacay but this time was especially hard. I feel like I missed my calling except for with jobs, it’s for a place. They really seem to have a lot of their shit sorted in Vancouver. They seem happier, less judgmental and more likely to experiment with drugs. They’re like your cooler, more experienced, younger cousin who is more chill than you.

After trying to get a cab this morning, Cara just drove me to the Skytrain station in Olympic Village. I bought a ticket and it took me straight to the airport. I lost myself a bit in International flights and couldn’t find the Air Transat counter but I got through that pretty quickly.

I checked my bag and went through security in no time. Even their security is more chill there. I walked around and got Carl’s Jr for the first time (cheeseburger at 10am was a good choice.) I waited at the boarding gate and watched Kimmy Schmidt. I got on the plane and am writing this now after a pretty great and easy flight. I love those little chalky mints Air Transat gives you right before descending. We’re almost there now. I’m excited to get my luggage and go home.

 

Bonnie Stern Bread

Like Oprah, I love bread.

I like eating it in sandwiches and with butter and sometimes just breaking off pieces of it and eating it like that. Until recently, like within the past year or two, I figured I would be a bread consumer only, rather than a bread creator. But after finding a recommended no-knead bread recipe on Lainey Gossip, I decided to test out my skills. I’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who makes their own bread. It’s not super worth it because bread is like 3$ at the store but it is cool to make something from scratch that can actually contribute to the grilled cheese sandwiches you make every day.

The recipe is from Bonnie Stern and can be found here: https://houseandhome.com/recipe/bonnie-sterns-no-knead-artisanal-bread-recipe/

It’s cool in a lot of ways but mainly in the fact that you only need a dutch oven big enough to hold your final bread form. It’s pretty low maintenance in that you don’t need to roll it out in any way or really maneuver it in the way you’d feel pressure to maneuver it when making bread. You mostly just fold it over a few times and pat it with flour to ensure its shape stays bread-like.

What is labour intensive are the hours spent at home waiting for your dough to rise. From the initial mix of all the ingredients (minus extra flour for dusting and maybe sesame seeds if you’re into that), you have to wait overnight for the yeast to do its work and make the dough rise. No problem, that’s fine because mixing flour, salt, instant yeast and water is nothing. It takes five minutes. You can make pre-bread in five minutes which is the least amount of time it takes me to make anything while baking or cooking.

The annoying part is the next day when your flour has risen. You take it out of its giant bowl once, pat it with flour then cover it in plastic wrap for 15 minutes. Okay, that seems like an arbitrarily short and random amount of time to have it sit but I’m sure the recipe writer knows what’s up. After the fifteen minutes are up, you dust it with more flour and fold it into thirds and add the extra baking trick (sesame seeds, lol) and let it rise for another 2 hours. Why? I don’t know.

When waiting for it to rise you have to set an alarm for 1.5 hours because at this point you heat up the oven and the dutch oven in the oven. You carefully place the bread in there at the 2 hour mark and then you bake the bread for 30 minutes before removing the lid and cooking it for its last 30 minutes. All things said, the whole process is really four hours but feels like six. Do with that what you will when you ever consider making this again. It does taste delicious though and eating fresh out of the oven bread with cold butter makes me feel like Ina Garten.

Eliot's Bookshop

Eliot’s is a trip. It’s been around forever and recently closed down because it was cheaper to rent it out to a corporate business than actually run a used book store in Toronto. My friends and everyone who hangs out with me for more than five minutes know that I hate capitalism but I especially hate it when it takes perfect, independent quality businesses from my life.

I discovered Eliot’s way too late to appreciate it properly. The first time I ever went in, I was 22 and bored on my lunch break from a job that I didn’t really like and walked to College to window shop. I saw the big green sign outside Eliot’s and wondered why I had never noticed that there was a bookstore on this stretch of convenience stores, sex stores, sneaker spots and those stores that sell Canadian tourist shit like CN tower replicas and moose t-shirts. If I had known Eliot’s was there, I would have gone way earlier.

Because it was 1pm on a workday, I was the only person in the store and the guy working there, presumably, Eliot, said “hello” and largely left me alone. I appreciate this in a store owner, because I am often paranoid that people will think I am stealing from them. I’m not, haha, but my nervous energy probably sets off the wrong signals. Eliot ignored my nervous energy and let me browse the entire bookshelf worth of Secrets of NIHM books in peace. Secrets of NIHM is this book series about rodents that are like Arthur and the kings of the roundtable or whatever. But they’re mice. I had recently read a copy of one of the series’ books at my parents’ cottage and was surprised to find that Eliot seemed to have every episode that existed. I picked out two more and carried them around with me while I looked around and when he noticed me looking at the stairs, Eliot encouraged me to go upstairs. “There’s two more floors.” he said. “Two?” I was a bit shocked. “Ya.”

And then he just let me go upstairs and explore more by myself. There were self-help books and cookbooks and books on gardening and on how to antique. I didn’t go up to the third floor because I realized I had no time left on my lunch break. When I came back down, carrying my three Secrets of NIHM books, he chatted to me about the series and told me about owning the shop. He gave me his business card and told me to come back when I needed to restock on Secrets of NIHM again.

Eliot’s store was unique, and not just in the fact that the name is spelled with one “L” and one “T” which always throws me off. It had more books than space for them and there were piles that seemed to multiply the farther you got into it. It was meticulously organized by book topic and there were connections between floors and subject matter. Lots of romance novels and science fiction stuff and educational books that teach you how to make shit.  

Years later, when I read about Eliot’s closing down on the CBC (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/eliots-bookshop-property-taxes-yonge-1.4245171), I visited for the second and last time. The article mentioned that it would be cheaper for Eliot to just rent the space to a bigger business than it would be to actually run the bookstore and pay for growing property taxes. He owned the building and knew he would have to retire eventually, he just didn’t want to so soon. What a huge bummer.

I told my mom about it closing and she said she made a special stop on her way home from being retired one day. She, like me on my first visit, was the only one in the store. She picked out a book on meditation (her Secrets of NIHM) and went to the register. Eliot told her she could have it for free. When I went back, the shelves were emptying quickly as everything was on clearance. The Secrets of NIHM shelf had been long gone. There was a teenage girl who looked like she went to UofT with her mom and sister buying a huge stack of books who let me go in front of them in line because I just had this one weird book on antiques I wanted to give my dad as a joke because the cover art was nice. I looked at Eliot. I said “thanks” and Eliot said “thanks” and we both looked sad.

Nana Mouskouri

There’s a 90% chance that music my mom listened to when I was a kid will become my bath music as an adult. Mom music is calm and soothing, like my mom. There’s also a 90% chance that the music my mom used to listen to will be by sung by a powerful European woman with a deep voice and vague, sweeping generalizations about love. Édith Piaf, the French Kiss soundtrack, Françoise Hardy and Nana Mouskouri played on repeat in my house and I’m a more emotionally open person because of it.

Recently, for my birthday, my parents drove me up to their cottage and made me coffee and let me read quietly all day. When it was time to eat, my mom asked me what music I wanted to listen to for my birthday dinner. When I said I didn’t know, she went through her case and put on Édith Piaf. She couldn’t see me from the kitchen but I teared up a bit because it was exactly what I wanted to hear at that time. My mom knows my music feelings better than I do.

Nana Mouskouri’s music feels more like mom music than anybody else’s to me. Her voice is rich and loud but chill. She covers your mom’s favourites and does them better because her voice is so smooth. Every song she sings feels like she woke up from a nap at 3pm, dragged herself into a recording studio with a glass of cold white wine AND some black coffee and just decided she would record a song for my mom. It always makes me think of my mom when I hear her which is almost never.

Last weekend when my sisters and I made a spontaneous trip up to the cottage again this summer, I went through their cds and found the very best of Nana Mouskouri. The cover makes her look like she’s a sex therapist and totally undersells her talent and beauty. Nana sings about love shamelessly. Most of her songs have the word “love” in the title like there’s nothing else worth singing about. And there almost isn’t. Only Love. Love Changes Everything. Love is a Rose. Love is Like a Butterfly. She’s overwhelmed and it disarms me. She sings about love like a teenager writes about it, the best way. I can be dismissive about so many things my mom suggests but her music taste is so on point to me now.

When listening to Nana, my problems seem trivial when there’s so much to celebrate. She’s in her 80s now, and definitely not touring anymore. I hope she’s living in an old house in Greece, in love and rich as shit and laughing about how seriously I take her music now.

Earliest Memory of Shitting my Pants

As a teenager, I used to catch a flu almost every winter break between Christmas and New Years. It usually only lasted a couple of days but one year’s bout of Norwalk was particularly difficult and long for me. I had hugged one of my cousin’s kids goodbye after my parents hosted a Christmas party at our house and later learned that he had been throwing up for days before the 25th.

On boxing day, my other cousin came over and dared me to dare her to eat a full carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream. In hindsight, she was just trying to eat all the ice cream and because I hated mint chocolate chip and didn’t really care if she ate it or not, I agreed. She started eating it while I worked away at a bag of salt and vinegar chips which I still can’t really stomach to this day. The next morning, when I woke up at 3am and started puking out the dinner and chips I had eaten the night before, everyone heard and thought it was Elaine and her stupid mint chocolate chip ice cream.

I spent the next three days loudly puking and shitting in the upstairs bathroom. I camped out in my house’s guest bedroom because it was closer to the washroom. By the third day, I was exhausted and dehydrated, unable to drink any water without it coming up half an hour later. I timed the periods between my throwing up on the DVD player and for a day or two I had to get up consistently every 27 minutes. I thought that my body was cool. I slept soundly between the vomiting sessions. Finally, after four days of this, I couldn’t muster the energy to get up anymore. My puking had turned to intermittent diarrhea which was more manageable and less aggressive. I had been laying in bed for a few minutes at 5 in the morning and my stomach turned.

My heart wanted it to be a fart. I felt so confident that it was a fart and that I could just go back to sleep without thinking of it. The bathroom was ten feet away but it was the principle, I had already gotten up so many times.

Later that morning, after taking a shower and cleaning the sheets, I went downstairs to watch my family eat breakfast. I sat next to my mom who insisted that I have some water and toast after having eaten very little that week. I told her the story of what happened that morning. She looked worried when she asked: “It wasn’t a fart...was it?” No, it wasn’t. She was so disappointed.

Greyhound: Atlanta to Charleston

Over the summer of 2014, my friend, Emma, and I travelled to Atlanta for our friend, Harris’ wedding. During the planning stages of our trip, we decided we wanted to extend our mini vacation in the US to include Charleston, South Carolina because that was one of the places we recognized when we read about places to visit in the South. Its old houses, palm trees, cobblestone streets and proximity to the ocean drew us in on our Google searches and we decided to be spontaneous and take advantage of our generous vacation time. We had done some research and found that though flights from Atlanta to Charleston were cheap, it was cheaper to take a Greyhound bus and it would be easy enough for us to sit in one and entertain each other for eight hours on the trip across states. That was like eight episodes of True Detective. Emma and I are cheap so we booked the Greyhound shortly after we booked our flights to Atlanta and home from Charleston. It was going to be an adventure and it was going to be fun.

On the morning of Greyhound day, we woke up earlier than god and packed our bags, wrote a cute note to our Air BnB host asking him to forgive us for locking ourselves out of our room and bugging him to help us out (that was more me than Emma) and took a cab to the bus station in downtown Atlanta. The first person I noticed was a woman holding a rag against her bleeding leg. Her black eye, scratches along her arms, her bleeding fingers and knuckles and the aforementioned leg injury made me think she had just beaten someone up or been beaten up herself. It was bleak. Random kids were walking around aimlessly like they were in charge of their own schedules and making their own bus trips across the country. A stressed out lady was holding a baby wrapped in a white blanket and talking loudly into her phone. Many old men gave Emma and I the once-over then proceeded to read their papers. It was a bit like we were in the twilight zone but we decided to run with the whole bus plan because what else would we have done, we had already bought our tickets. We aren't rich. That's why we took the bus in the first place.

The station had signs pointing in unclear directions. We went to the information desk and told them our bus number and asked if we needed to check our bags before leaving. They said “no”. We waited in the line for our bus and when we got to the doors, the bus driver asked us why our bags weren’t tagged to indicate that we were getting off in Charleston. This bus was stopping in Augusta on the way and we would need some paper sign that our bags were to be taken off and transferred to another bus. We didn’t know how to answer him so just shrugged and stood there like we were dumb. He insisted we run back to the ticketing place and to do it fast because we were likely going to be the last ones on this almost full bus at this point. Emma seemed exasperated but I insisted it would be fine because I always lie to her and tell her everything will be fine. We got our tickets after more waiting in line and people of Atlanta observing. We attached the tickets to our shitty duffle bags and boarded the bus after the pissed off driver gave us the tenth set of cut eye we had received that day.

As we were among the last to board, there were no seats next to each other but we did notice two empty seats next to two men, one in front of the other. I walked down the aisle first and sat next to a light skinned guy in a big white t-shirt. He seemed nice. I put my bag under Emma’s seat that was right in front of mine and proceeded to pull out my book. Emma’s seatmate was a skinny guy with a beard, also wearing a white t-shirt but he had an eye patch. I loved this. Because of the layout of the bus, I never noticed Emma talking with the bearded guy at all. I was also distracted because I noticed that the guy next to me had a picture of Beyoncé on the background of his phone. It also happened to be one of my favourite pictures of her. You know, the one where she’s dressed as a literal Queen and she’s wearing this elaborate gold corset and her hair is curly and her makeup is dramatic and flawless and she has literally never looked better? I couldn’t hold it in anymore and just pointed to his lock screen and said “BEYONCÉ”. We looked at each other like we'd just found our bus soulmates. He said he loved her. I agreed with him. We talked about our favourite songs and videos and he told me his name was Aaron. I asked him how old he was and what he did for a living and he said that he was 19 and that he drove trucks across country and he had recently finished a job in Atlanta and was returning home to Washington. He asked if I was 28, I said I wasn’t, that I was actually 23 and very insulted by his guess. He said not to worry, that it was more that I gave off a mature vibe and not that I looked 28. I said that I didn’t know what that meant but it still sounded insulting but that he was sort of right because people in my family aged poorly. He laughed and we bonded for the rest of the four hour trip to Augusta. I was worried about Emma but she seemed to be sleeping. She looked back at me a few times and I could sense jealousy in her stares. Aaron and I read over texts he was sending his very good friend, Natalie. They were going through some issues because he was in love with her but they had only ever been best friends. I encouraged him to come to terms with his feelings and to tell her everything but to not press the situation too hard. He agreed.

We continued to chat and when it got quiet, we would look out the window together and listen to music. I asked him to show me his Twitter because he said he had 7000 followers. I asked him how he maintained that kind of online presence and he said it wasn’t that hard. He also noted the importance of retweeting and liking other people's’ posts, as a way to engage the Twitter community. Then we started talking about guns and he told me a story where his uncle, his nephew and him had been held at gunpoint in their basement during a home invasion. His uncle was shot in the leg, his nephew was only 9 and they never caught the three intruders.  I looked shocked and he said to not worry about him, that it happened everywhere in the States. I asked him if he had ever visited Toronto and he said no. We were still chatting when we pulled into Augusta. He got off the bus and then we waved and parted ways.

As Emma and I disembarked, she grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the driver who was removing our luggage from the underside of the bus. She immediately told me about how insane the guy sitting next to her was. His name was Reece and he had served in Afghanistan, where he had lost his eye. He spent the first two hours of the trip asking her to send him nudes and she spent the last two hours of the trip pretending to be asleep. This plan backfired when he rested his head on her shoulder and fell asleep. I thought that this was hilarious but Emma was rattled by the whole experience. I felt guilty relaying to her how cool Aaron was and that I knew we would be friends because the background on his phone was a picture of Beyoncé.

We grabbed our bags and went into the large waiting room of the bus station, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The towns we passed looked like they hadn’t changed their infrastructure and buildings since the 70s or 80s. Their store windows were either boarded up or had dusty displays of mannequins with bald heads modeling women’s plaid pantsuits . The bus stop was equally frozen in time and looked like it used to be a school. This was confirmed when we went into the bathrooms and the toilets were so close to the ground they looked like they were made for five year olds. We washed our hands and I tried to find the restaurant Emma had said there would likely be at this stop. There was only a giant room with blue plastic chairs and a row of well stocked vending machines. We decided to look on the bright side, we both love vending machines and these ones looked like they knew what was up in terms of snack availabilities. We had four dollars between the two of us so we decided on a giant rice krispies square, a snickers bar, a blue gatorade (as if there are any other good flavours) and some potato chips for diversity. We sat down to our feast, and started sharing as we hadn’t had breakfast yet and Emma was still shaken up over her experience with Reece in the first bus. At this point, Aaron and Reece had moved to a separate waiting area from us and we were alone again to people watch in peace. Until an old white man with patchy facial hair approached us.

He introduced himself as Michael and told us that he had come talk to us because we were the best looking girls at this bus stop. I looked around and made a mental note that we were basically the only two women there. We looked sheepish and brushed off his comments but he was insistent. He proceeded to tell us that he was a mechanic and that he couldn’t travel on planes because he needed his tools, which included hammers, wrenches and some large, rusty looking shears. He had driven a car across the country for his son and was returning via bus to his wife and other kids. He spoke about his eight children and 10 grandkids, one of whom died recently. We didn’t know how to react to this guy so we just listened intently and nodded along as he recounted his Greyhound adventures. He looked like he was trying to get closer to incite a group hug so I grabbed Emma’s hand and directed her to two empty seats on the other side of the waiting area to continue our snacking.

Once sat, another man in one of the seats next to us turned and introduced himself as Jonah, a name I’m now obsessed with. I hadn’t noticed him before we sat down which was weird seeing as he was dressed in green hospital scrubs and had a giant bloody patch of gauze attached to his forehead and head. We shook hands with Jonah and told him our names and he held onto my hand for a long time and stared into my eyes while repeating my name back to me. I pulled my hand away and asked him about his hospital scrubs. He seemed confused and like he didn’t know what I was talking about then settled on “ohh you know, I’ve just had a strange couple of weeks.” He didn’t tell us much more about himself during our conversation but asked us a lot of questions and, like Michael, pointed out how nice we were. They weren’t wrong. He mentioned Jesus a few times and when we asked him where he was headed he shook his head and said that he wasn’t sure. We asked if his bus was leaving shortly and again he seemed unsure. I figured asking about the head injury might be rude and invasive. Was this guy dead and we just didn’t know it? Do ghosts bleed? Slowly, it came time for us to leave. A man announced over an intercom that our bus was leaving. I still hadn’t seen Aaron since we got off the first bus. I motioned to Emma that we should get going. We got up and said goodbye to Jonah, who we would likely never see again. He looked a bit disappointed that we were leaving and as we walked away he said “Emma….” She turned around to look at him. “Are you going to finish that rice krispies square?” She looked at the half eaten square, shook her head and handed it to him. He thanked us and we turned around and walked away to board our final bus of the trip. We got on, I saw Aaron for a brief second waiting on our platform and I waved but he couldn’t see me. Emma and I found two seats next to each other and we planted ourselves there comfortably for the remainder of the trip. I booted up my computer and we shared my headphones and watched the first three episodes of True Detective Season 2. We both fell asleep, for real this time.

Back when I lived with four people in a small three bedroom and one large closet house downtown, I experienced the worst and most embarrassing moments of my existence up until that point. The chance to shame myself happens very seldom as an adult because of an overwhelming obsession with details and constant self-awareness that makes most fuck ups almost entirely avoidable. This night was an exception.

I was twenty three and my newly moved in male roommate had gotten free tickets to a midnight screening of The Editor from our other roommate who worked at this film festival that year. We had flirted harmlessly for a while but I wasn’t really into the idea of having sex with him and compromising our roommate friendship. We decided to go on a date to this movie and being that it started late and we had a good chunk of time beforehand, we drank a half a magnum of cheap white wine and smoked a joint at home before leaving. He had also brought a joint for smoking outside the theatre to further ensure me getting really messed up that night. The movie was showing at a university screening theatre downtown and we got there just in time to see a bunch of people walking down the red carpet. This made me anxious as I already felt stoned and like everyone was looking at me. They, most definitely, were not. Not yet at least.

We cross the street and smoke in a parking lot. I feel okay given all the wine and pot but I have to pee a little. I ignore this urge because, gross, peeing is gross, girls are disgusting. When we enter the theatre, the lights are slightly low and the seats are maybe half filled. We decide that the best seats are three rows from the front and right in the middle. These seats are pretty much half a row down from a single guy sitting in the aisle seat. When we get into his row, he politely moves his legs so we can pass by. He looks friendly. We sit in the middle seats and start chatting and at this point it’s urgent that I pee before the movie starts. I’m worried the lights will dim even further and I’ll forget where I’m sitting. Again, I was high. We hadn’t been sitting there for five minutes but in that time the man at the end of the row had fallen asleep. This is not surprising because it is a Tuesday and it’s midnight and he likely had work in the morning like most people in the world.

I don’t notice him sleeping as I walk towards him, but I do notice how extended his legs are now. I’m getting nervous as I approach him and the aisle. He looks like he could be dead. I debate climbing over the seats into either the rows in front or behind us but at the last second chicken out and see that while his legs are extended to touch the chairs in front of him, they’re also spread wide open. My dumb fuck brain thinks that this opening would be a great place for me to put one of my legs, so I could hop over him in one sneaky snake movement. I steady myself by putting a hand on the back of his seat and on the seat in front of him and lift my right leg. The opening is not big enough for me. I’m squeezing myself into the spot in between his legs. I land my leg on the floor of the opening and then stop moving. I’m essentially straddling this poor stranger and he’s still sleeping. I’m frozen, I can’t move because he may wake up. I haven’t even been this intimate with my roommate yet and I remember him and try to see if he can see me giving this random aisle seat guy a lap dance. Then I realize that the other people in the theatre might be watching this too. The other people also included the producers, director, editors and actors that are in this movie. As I’m contemplating this, the aisle man wakes up. I am still straddling his one leg with both of mine. I look him in the eyes and see pure terror. He has no idea who I am or why I’m there. Or why I’m trying to hump his leg. I apologize profusely. I disentangle myself from him, with a little bit of help from his end, finally. I can’t look at him while he keeps insisting that it’s okay and that he’s fine. He just wants me to be okay but I am so far from that. I just want to get away from this situation as fast as I can.

As I make it to the aisle I breathe a sigh of relief and make my way quickly up the stairs. I don’t get two steps before I trip on my way up. I am practically horizontal on the stairs that I’m now realizing are lit up from the bottom. I can’t even compute what’s happening to me as I hadn’t fully recovered from grinding on the man in the aisle while my roommate was probably playing a game on his phone. I lay there unsure of what to do. A man sitting in the seat to my left slowly half lifts himself from his seat and hovers over me. “Are you okay?” I’m at eye level with his feet.

I think to myself: Pretend you are dead. Don’t move and this will be over in a few minutes. They’ll come to get your body and it will all be okay. But how long will it take for them to get here? Who are they? You’re a real person and you have to get up right now. No one is coming to save your dead body. I look up at the man and grit my teeth. “I’m fine. Thanks.” Lifting myself up slowly, I realize that my legs are hurt and that I will have to limp up the remainder of the stairs. I’m legitimately injured. I approach the top of the stairs and start thinking about whether or not people will recognize my bright blue jeans. On the way to the bathroom I think about leaving my roommate and telling him I’ll meet him back at the house. I don’t want to go back in there after having experienced two events so horrible and shameful one right after the other like that. But after peeing, I do go back. Because I want to see the movie but also to prove to myself that embarrassing moments like that don’t really matter. My roommate didn’t see anything and didn’t realize the extent of my injuries. He didn’t quite believe it had happened until I showed him my busted knee the next morning. We sat through the movie and I legitimately enjoyed it. I made sure to pee again before walking home.

Cheese and Pepper

Something I think is so great about cacio e pepe recipes is the fact that one of the main ingredients is pasta water. It’s an essential component to the flavour and texture of the pasta and finishes off the whole cooking process so beautifully. Also it’s free and it’s right there. You’re already cooking the pasta in water, all you have to do is save it when you’re done cooking the pasta.

According to this recipe that I use often: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/cacio-e-pepe-365162, the pasta water is brought to a simmer near the end and you add the pasta and cheese to it immediately afterwards. It sounds gross and counterintuitive to just add a bunch of starchy water to a skillet and throw some cooked pasta and cheese in there and hope for the best but this recipe kills it every time. I’ve never messed it up. I don’t always have the right breakdown of pecorino to parmesan. But I always have butter, cheese and pepper in my house which are basically the only other ingredients. It’s mac and cheese for grown ups. It’s fancy and impressive while not expecting too much of you and I love it for that.

No Frills

The No Frills by my house is a couple of minutes away. I go there on my way home from work or on Saturday mornings or Sunday nights. It's close enough to make a couple of stops in a day if I'm lucky. It's staffed with middle aged ladies and teenagers and there's usually a security guard and some kids selling chocolates by the main entrance. From the street, it's not that clear how to get in but once you know to walk through this narrow alleyway, you're indoctrinated into the No Frills fan club. Every person who has been in there agrees that it's the best No Frills in the city. Maybe even the best grocery store. When I tell other people where I live, a lot of them ask "near the No Frills?" and we bond over our mutual love for it. They're jealous and I like that. When in other stores, I scoff at how expensive everything is in comparison. I've saved so much money just by being too lazy to go anywhere else.

I love how completely bored and content everyone seems to be when they're working. I love how there's a lady who always stacks your items perfectly so they're really easy to put in bags. I haven't gotten their points card yet but it's only a matter of time before I cave and they turn my Optimum card into a PC points/Optimum card. I like how much space there is and how they add more products but it only seems to get bigger to accommodate. The route I take changes constantly depending on where they've moved the aisles. Every trip feels different and exactly the same.

They manage to have almost everything you need to make dinner and then some added random cooking containers and butcher cuts. Like, they have stewing beef but don't have lamb chops. As it grows and they redesign the aisles to include more organic food and sugar free cookies, I worry about it losing its specialness. Having lived here for three years, this No Frills is one of the only businesses I don't get cynical about anymore. They don't run out of produce anymore. This No Frills is like a second home to me. 

Tips on How to Be Good with Money When You're Not

Download Apps That Give You Points for Stuff

Since I downloaded the Carrot app, I haven't paid for a movie in, like, a year. I don't see very many movies in theatres but my point remains. All I have to do is walk around a lot everyday while carrying my phone and it logs my steps and gives me points for them. Once I earn 1000 scene points, I can see a movie for free. I currently have 2000 scene points on my Carrots app just sitting there lazily, while I walk around earning them every day. The somewhat negative aspect of this is that your data and activity log is probably being saved somewhere and used/sold by the government but this is a very small price to pay for free movies. 

Go to the Library

I mean, duh. 

Get Some Sort of Container and Put Money in It

I know compound interest is important but I recently repurposed an old mason jar I kept a plant I killed in by putting money in it. Now at the end of everyday, I put coins in there and occasionally use it for my laundry but mostly they just sit there like the scene points. The spare changes adds up and makes me feel good that I accomplished a very simple goal of putting away money for later. Like a kid. Like a piggy bank, essentially. This is my suggestion. 

Save Old Coupons

Okay this helped me recently because I kept getting all these Christmas emails about deals for subscriptions I was signed up for like Headspace and Classpass and shit. I stopped using Classpass because I couldn’t afford it and my one year Headspace subscription was a gift from an old boyfriend who was such a pain that dealing with him was cause for using Headspace. So once it expired, and since we no longer talk (thanks to all the clarity I got from using Headspace), I didn’t delete any of the Christmas emails I got for 25% off “the gift of headspace”. So I gifted it to myself now, for $71 instead of $95. Voila, ici, beaucoup, d’accord.

Use Other People’s Subscriptions

Who anywhere is actually paying for Netflix? It’s just a bunch of people with their lives already together who give their passwords to people who don’t have their lives already together. This is truly what the sharing economy should look like. Wealth distribution on a grassroots level. I was given a gift card for a year long subscription to Netflix like three years ago in my Christmas stocking from my sister-in-law. Have I been tempted to use it when I get kicked off my parent’s account at 9pm on a Thursday night? Yes, obviously, I want to watch How to Get Away with Murder NOW. But do I succumb to this whim, no, I don’t. Because I get free Netflix from my parents who continue to be the most generous people going. Get on someone else’s Netflix if you aren’t already. And share your password if you’re on your own subscription. This is keeping the world safe.

House Sit

In the same vein as using someone’s Netflix, we should all be using rich people’s houses when they’re on vacation. And rich people go on vacation a lot. Because they’re rich. The crucial part is knowing rich people. I have my parents and my friend’s parents who have asked me to house sit for them. Sometimes it involves watering their plants but mostly it’s taking a bath in their huge ass bathroom and just enjoying life more because their ceilings are higher.

Go to Free Workout Classes in Your Area

I could name like four different studios that offer free introductory spinning classes in Toronto. Whenever a trendy new workout idea makes its way to a new city, a bunch of places will let you go in free once, if you give them your email or credit card number at the door. You may have to cancel or some shit afterwards, but you got a free class. What more do you need? Giving up your credit card information for something free is marketing 101 and if you think it's a scam, you're right. But you're also getting free stuff for it so maybe don't try to have everything in life. Also speaking of Classpass, there is an invite your friend option where you can go to up to three free classes of your choice, over the course of two weeks, if your friend invites you. I’ve done this twice with two friends so essentially worked out for a month for free. It was amazing and I looked great. I had to use my mom’s credit card for the second subscription but who cares.

Thanksgiving 2016

We stayed in Eric’s new house that he built and designed himself. He gave us our own rooms and slept on a pull out in his spare room. One morning he got up before us and brought us bagels, strawberries and coffee. One of the mornings we were there we went out for breakfast at this sweet restaurant and I had a duck sausage sandwich and he paid for us in secret. We should get him a gift.

We went for a long ass hike to this lookout point. It was steep and slippery and scary in some places. The lookout was gorgeous. My brother even brought Andrew. The olds kept getting lost. We played this game that Jen taught us then we played the charades game. Kare, Jen, Cartman, Jono and I had a nice conversation about fruit and straight white male privilege. It was nice. Jen made pumpkin pie. We could have coffee and red wine whenever we wanted during the day. There were always snacks in the kitchen. Emma made one of the best cheese and spinach dips in the world. We ate it with chips and bread while we watched football and baseball and Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice. During the Presidential debates we flipped back and forth between those and the Jays game. It was very patriotic of us. We watched a lot of TV in the main house. Eric drove us to and from there everyday while also responding to calls he got on his pager because he’s a volunteer firefighter. It was cool.

On one of our last days we laid around the main house then we played basketball across the street with Cartman, Eric and Kare. I lost despite that one year in high school that I played on the novice girls’ basketball team. Sad. :(

We chilled for the day and went for a walk into town with Andrew who kept dropping his gloves so we had to go back and trace our steps to find them. When we came home, Jen suggested we practice driving because I still don’t have my G2. We started in the school parking lot across the street (where Kare and Cartman were playing basketball) and then Jen encouraged me to keep going down another street instead of circling the school another time. We went driving and it felt so free. We ran into Charlie on his bike (we were in the their car). He was startled, probably more by the idea of me driving his car. But it was nice, we got to driving into adjoining townships. I was distracted by the trees and leaves and colours on the trees but it didn’t matter because no one else was really on the road at dinner time. We went home even though Jen kept making me feel great about my driving skills. At one point she told me that left was home and right was away and I said I wanted to go back home but went right instead. I told her it was probably my subconscious making me want to keep practicing and spending time with her.

I drove us home and Jen made me an aperol spritz and we ate and drank and watched tv and it was heaven and I loved it. It was an epic one. I wish my sister came with her crew. They’ll come for the next one.