Monday, 29 November 2010

I'll Leave You Alone Forever Now you guys, you know...loyal followers...want to, I dunno...have coffee with me sometime? Um, don't have to. I understand if you don't. Urgh, you know what, forget that I asked. I'm so dumb. You wouldn't want to...

Okay, I'll leave you alone forever now.


We've all had these moments, and unfortunately mine have mostly come from awkward encounters with boys and men. When it comes to liking someone who you aren't 100% sure about it can be hard to break the ice and ask them out. I've been on both sides of the awkward fence.

I'll give you two examples. One where I was awkwardly asked out, and one where I awkwardly tried to ask someone out. Both were, um, really embarrassingly pathetic. 

EXAMPLE A: Nerdy mall security guard is nice enough to talk to, but 18-year-old jewellery kiosk employee really wants the guy who works at the record store.

One evening kiosk employee forgets something in the mall, and has to return at close. Nerdy is there, and is quite awkward when he approaches her to tell her he thinks she's really great, and interesting, and nice to talk to...blah blah blah...and asks her to go out with him sometime.

Kiosk girl wants to say no, but doesn't want feelings to be hurt, since she knows she'll see Nerdy often. So she says, "I'll think about it, okay?" and leaves.

Next shift where they're both working, Nerdy approaches,"So, have you thought about it?" Kiosk girl feels awful, but has to let him down easy.

Now, that is awkward!

EXAMPLE B: Kiosk girl is now a Barista at a cafe and her favourite customer (at the time) is a animator who sits in her store and draws for hours with his medium coffee, in a mug.

[Sidenote: You may remember him as Cartoon Boy from the relationships post.]

Cartoon Boy is older, but is back in school to study animation. His dream is to work for Disney! He is very chatty and very friendly, and was extremely sympathetic to the Barista when she was laid off from her "real job" as an editorial assistant. 

During his reading week (a week off for college/university students) he comes in, and the Barista's hands get shaky. She tries to use his week off as an excuse to hangout with him outside of work.

"Um, so yeah, if you're free this week....let me know...if you want to get coffee or something."

This awkward statement is misunderstood as an invitation to come back to the cafe for coffee.

He leaves and nothing comes of it. He then moves away to Sudbury, Ontario.

Damn, that's awkward.

Anyways, it's also extremely uncomfortable to run into people from high school. It happens to me a lot because I live in the city where I went to high school. At the mall, at work, at the bar, at social gatherings, you name it - they will find you and remind you that you're a failure! Sometimes you just don't want to deal with it, so here are three ways to avoid talking to these people:

1. Pretend you're on the phone.
2. Hide behind a book or magazine.
3. Fashion a clever disguise.

I hope this post didn't make you feel too awkward.

Hey, Tom? Do you want to maybe, I dunno, write a post know, awkward moments? It's okay if you don't want to, I totally understand.

But if you do, would you be able to post it on Wednesday? I totally get it if you're busy and don't want to or think this is dumb. God, I'm such an idiot...

Anyways, I'll see you Wednesday Tom! 

Great post last week Lauren, I want some nachos now!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Food food food! (for lack of a witty title...)

Oops. It's technically Saturday. Let's use our imaginations and pretend it's still Friday, shall we?

Like most people, I like to eat. But I don't always like to cook. I generally surround myself with people who like to cook so I don't have to.

For those nights when I am faced with the challenge of cooking on my own, there is a magical place called The Canton Grill.

Pure magic, I say

Seriously. It's my standard go-to place for decent Chinese food. I've been eating there since the dawn of time and I think I've ordered a Number 3 since I was twelve.

Long live #3!

Very few meals can top the comfort of a chow mien recipe that has literally been the same for years and years. And the fried shrimp is the best in town, if not the best in the world (I'll just stick with saying it's the best in town - claiming that an American Chinese food restaurant makes the best Chinese food in the world seems slightly ignorant/insensitive...).

But there are nights when one of the following is true:

a) I'm feeling cheap.
b) I don't feel like leaving the house.
c) I'm not in the mood for Chinese food.
(I just remembered that I'm ALWAYS in the mood for Chinese food.)

On one of these nights, I may attempt to cook something spectacular.

Like scrambled eggs:

Dammit. These were supposed to be eggs...

Maybe I'll search for leftover food in my fridge but become offended by notes from my past self instead of finding anything good to eat:

Living with myself is so difficult sometimes

On a night such as this, I may break down and cook one of the few things I can confidentally say "Why yes, I've got a pretty bad ass recipe for that up my sleeve." It's the ultimate comfort food and I can eat way too much if I'm not careful.

What am I talking about, boys and girls? Nachos. I am talking about nachos.

I did not make the nachos in this picture. But that doesn't stop them from lookin mighty fine! If those nachos were a man, I would...oh nevermind...

I can't let Allison be the only one with a recipe, so here's my bad ass recipe for nachos.

Lauren's Bad Ass Nacho Recipe:

Things you need:
- A bag of tortilla chips (I recommend those ones that come in the red bag)
- A jar of salsa (I'm into salsa verde these days. Don't let the fact that it's green scare you - it's delish)
- A can of black beans
- Chicken (Because I'm lazy, I always buy the little bag of pre-cooked chicken next to the lunch meat in the deli, but you're totally welcome to grill up some chicken and season it however you want)
- A can of olives (pre-sliced, unless you want to slice them yo self, foo)
- Cheese
- A pan that looks like this:
If this tray could talk, it would be saying "Make nachos on top of meeee!"

- Disco music (It will enhance the nacho-making experience. Trust me.)

This is what you do:

1. Before you do anything involving food, make sure the disco music is playing at a respectable volume. And by respectable, I mean loud enough that Tom can hear it in London (unless you live in London - then aim for Allison in Canada).
2. Lay the chips out on the tray.
3. Put beans on top of the chips. You don't need to use the whole can, but you are welcome to if you are feeling really enthusiastic about beans.
4. Allow the chicken to colonize on top of the chips and beans. Break the chicken up into bite-sized pieces and evenly distribute it all over.
5. Dump salsa all over the chips, beans, and colonies of chicken. Use a spoon to avoid a giant mess.
6. Grate cheese and throw it on top of the whole affair. Don't be stingy - cheese is the best part of nachos!
7. Sprinkle olives on top!
8. If you're feeling extra hungry/feeding multiple people, you may want to add another layer to the nachos. If this is the case, pile more stuff on. If this is not the case, it's time to put the nachos in the freaking oven.
9. I should have told you to preheat the freaking oven. I forgot. Turn it on to 350 degrees Farhenheit (or any other degrees, as long as it's Farhenheit).
10. Dance to the disco music while you're waiting for the oven to heat up.
11. Put the nachos in the oven. Set a timer for 6 minutes and keep a loose eye on them. Cook them until the cheese is melted and the chips look all crispy and excellant.
12. Pull it out of the oven and EAT NACHOS!

Nachos get two thumbs up from The Yank

There you have it - Lauren's Bad Ass Nacho Recipe.

Okay, so posting a recipe for something as obvious as nachos is mildly retarded now that I think about it. But that is my comfort food of choice! Well, besides combo numba 3 from Canton...

Hi, I'm slightly pathetic. :D

Aaaaand that concludes this week's episode.

This is The Yank, signing off!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Prick With a Fork

Food. Glorious food. It's odd how your mood can be improved by eating a certain food, or how - in the case of a bad meal you're expected to pay through the nose for - it can bring it straight back down. I had promised my fellow TASGers that I'd include a recipe on this post, but I'm rubbish. I'm hoping that perhaps there won't even be a need for one - my comfort food of choice, for when I'm feeling down and in need of cheering up (and haven't already decided to drink my troubles away) is really quite simple. It's the incredible, mouthwatering perfectly-partnered sausage and mash.

My love for this meal started at university, the first time I'd ever lived away from home. I was incredibly homesick for the first week, and the amount of time I spent on my own, in my room and feeling thoroughly depressed earned me the nickname 'Hermit'.

One of my housemates came to my rescue. I think i may have been a project of hers - I would be dragged kicking an screaming from my self-imposed exile whether I liked it or not. While I'm eternally grateful to her for this, I do also hold her solely responsible for yours truly being fined the princely sum of £25 for 'anti-social behaviour' some weeks later. Anyway, every Thursday night before Eastenders, we'd pick up enough sausages, spuds, onions and gravy to feed the five thousand. Except it would usually feed only three. It was, in part, bangers and mash that brought me out of my shell - ridiculous as that sounds.

Whenever I have it now I think of those drink-fuelled, fun-filled first terms of higher education and no matter what mood I'm in, I take comfort in the fact that the fun I had then can be repeated. That no matter how lost or lonely I feel, there are people out there who can chase away the dark clouds. It never fails to warm me up, restore my faith in humanity and turn my frown upside down. And then, more often that not, leave me full of regret at not preparing a normal-sized portion.

I leave you, this week, with a topical joke I noticed on somebody's Twitter that I know I saw but now can't find:

"I bought some pork sausages today from Sainsburys, they had a picture of Jamie Oliver on the packet. On the back it said 'prick with a fork'. You can't argue with that."

PS You may have notice the lack of embarrassing photo. It's on its way, I promise. I left it on my work computer - but trust me, it's bad enough to make the wait worthwhile.
Edit 25.11.10 - Please see hideous photo of me, avec saucisson, below.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Ms Potato Head's Kitchen

Let's just get the embarrassing photo out of the way.

This week the TASG is talking about our favourite comfort foods, and for me, the timing is perfect for this topic because:

A) I eat when I’m stressed.

B) It’s getting cold up here in Canada!

I can’t speak for Tom and Lauren, as they will share their own stories Wednesday and Friday, but I can tell you that I actually really like cooking.


Yeah, I love to cook.


Okay, so I don’t really like just making dinner or whatever, but I do, on occasion, like to make a nice meal - and I’m pretty good at it (I think). I get a lot of my favourite recipes from magazines and such. One of my favourites is a potato and leek soup recipe - perfect for a cold evening.

I freakin’ love potatoes! Seriously...I will eat potato anything. Baked potatoes, mashed, fried, scalloped, potato salad, boiled, hash browns...I could go on, and on. I am very Irish when it comes to the potato! (I’m only like 1/4 Irish...I think...maybe more...but it certainly counts on St. Paddy’s Day). Potatoes just bring me joy - and that is why this soup is one of my favourite comfort foods.

Allison, what do I need to make this at home?
Leeks next to some delicious bacon

Easy, here are the ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped bacon (mmm...bacon)
1 cup chopped leeks - white + light green part only
3 cups of peeled, diced potatoes (mmm)
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
1 cup of dry white wine (mmm)
3 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of chopped chives

How do I make this delicious comfort food Allison?:

• Cook bacon in large, heavy sauce pan on medium-high - stir often untl crispy (approx. 6 mins)
• Remove using slotted spoon and save it as a garnish and drain all but a tbsp of fat from the pan.
• Add leeks and cook until soft.
• Add potatoes, salt & pepper (stir)
• Add wine and cook until reduced by half.
• Pour in chicken broth and reduce heat to simmer until the potatoes are very tender (15 mins).
• Blend using a hand mixer.
• Stir in sour cream
• Serve w/ bacon and chives on top (I’ve also used grated chedder).
Simmer down now!

Also, I’ve made this recipe for a vegetarian friend before. I just removed the bacon, used olive oil instead of bacon fat to cook the leeks, and vegetable broth instead of chicken. It pretty much didn’t change the flavour.

Finished product!
Oh, and totally drink the rest of the wine.

Other comfort foods and drinks for me are:

• Hot chocolate
• Tea
• That cheesy salsa dip by Tostitos - microwave that’s delicious with tortilla chips.
• Guacamole!
• Peanut butter (toast, bread, on a spoon from the jar).
• Chocolate
• Cookies
• Cake
• Wine
• Gin
• Sweet potato fries
• Butter tarts (I just learned that these are a Canadian invention).
• Wow...this is starting to sound like my guilty pleasures post.

Anyways, I made this for dinner on Sunday and it was amazing.

After dinner I played some darts in my basement by myself.

Blurry cellphone picture of me practicing darts for Quiz Night.

Okay Tom - comfort food(s)...Go!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Lauren's Embarrassing List Of Guilty Pleasures

Okay, here we go.  THIS should be a fun post.  I think half of the things I like could probably considered guilty pleasures.  There are even some things that I should be ashamed of that I have loved for so long I no longer feel any guilt (i.e: Lady Gaga, reruns of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," 90's eurodance, etc.). 

But anyway, I'm going to attempt to boil this down into a cute little list.

I'll call this list "Lauren's Embarrassing List Of Guilty Pleasures."  The list will begin at this time:

*drum roll*

(in no particular order)

- Reality Television.  It's trashy, predictable, and an overall train wreck - but I can't look away. 

- The "Twilight" Movies.  These are possibly the worst films ever made, but something about them draws me in.  I make fun of them the whole time I'm watching them, of course, but the whole time I am secretly fascinated by the whole werewolf-vampire-human love triangle.  CONFESSION:  Somehow, I ended up with tickets to an exclusive pre-show of "New Moon."  A friend and I told everyone we were going to a rock show and snuck off to go watch "Twilight" in a room full of pre-teen girls and their mothers.  ANOTHER CONFESSION:  I have been to Forks, Washington.  I was on my way to Canada, but there were other routes I could have taken.  I went to Forks on purpose.

- t.A.T.u.  Remember those Russian lesbians that did that song "All The Things She Said" when we were all in middle school?  I never did take them off of my iPod... 

- The Black Eyed Peas.  With lyrics as simplistic and stupid as "let's do it, let's do it, let's do it, let's do it, let's dooooo it," I'm a little ashamed to say that The B.E.P.'s are one of my favorite things to jam out to in my car.  CONFESSION:  I secretly wish I was Fergie. ANOTHER CONFESSION:  I know all of the words to "Imma Be."

- Trashy late night advice talk shows on the radio.  My favorite radio station recently changed it's programming schedule and "Loveline with Doctor Drew" is no longer on weeknights at 11.  Discovering this shouldn't have made me as sad as it did. 

- The Food Network.  I don't cook, but I love watching other people cook. 

- Eating peanut butter with a spoon.  Out of the jar, naturally.  It's disgusting and I know it, but it's something that occasionally happens anyway (usually late at night).

- B-rated horror movies.  Actually, I've loved these kinds of movies for so long that I no longer really feel shame, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  CONFESSION:  My shelf of DVDs has two layers to it.  The outer layer is all the Wes Anderson films and things I feel as though I am allowed to like as a sophisticated film geek and a pseudo-hipster.  The inner layer is mostly b movie crap.  "Bela Lagose Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla," anyone?  Don't tell my hipster friends.

I feel as though I could make this list go on for a very long time but I am going to stop.  I think I have embarrassed myself enough for one week...

*scuttles away* 

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

I only play computer games sometimes. Honest.

The fact that this post is going to be so easy for me to write says something very important about the ways in which I choose to pass the time. Thinking about it, it would be a lot harder for me to think of something I like to do that's actually respectable, hip and down with the kids if you will, rather than a guilty pleasure (of which I have hundreds, it seems). Like Allison mentioned on Monday; now that I've left the mind-boggling gauntlet of judgement and prejudice that is school, I really couldn't care less about how my hobbies rate on the Scale of Cool. Dare I say that I've embraced geekdom? Yes, I've given in.

For the purpose of keeping this post a reasonable length, I'll choose my most embarrassing obsession; The Sims.

Yes - there's nothing I like more than guiding my virtual flock through the trials and tribulations of their simulated lives. I take good care of them, I do. They have fantastic clothes, great names, a dream house and never fail to succeed at whatever they choose to do [read: whatever I instruct them to do]. And therein, I think, lies the fascination for me. In their world I am all-powerful. A kind and just ruler of the universe they inhabit.

I could go further; not only do I revel in building a dynasty of stunningly successful, superbly named computerfolk, I also grow slightly envious of the carefree lives they lead.

Who wouldn't want a job that guarantees promotion if you work hard and keep people happy? Where boss' relatives and friends of friends don't start their careers with a built-in advantage. Who wouldn't kill for a real-life cheat that pops fifty grand into your bank account everytime you find yourself running low on funds? Or a button to press that will convince that faraway friend you never quite get round to calling that you honestly do still like them. This is how life show be, except, of course, that life should also be real.

I don't think I'm in any real danger of falling out of love with reality and finding myself unable to leave the glorious existence I've created for my sims. Real life is too much fun - at least it can be. But every now and then I wonder what it would be like never to have to make a decision, never to worry, never to fear the consequences of one's actions. And then I begin to wonder if I am, in fact, a tiny pawn in an incredibly complex version of the same game. And then I realise I've been up far too long and need to go to bed.

Or has my creator just right-clicked 'Sleep Until Fully Rested'?

Stop it Tom, seriously. And hang your head in your guilty pleasure shame.

Here I am with a selection of my guilty pleasures. Risha - please note fake Burberry scarf from my less sophisticated days. Everyone - please don't judge me too harshly.

Monday, 15 November 2010

I'm Not Guilty!

This week The TASG is writing about our guilty pleasures.

The thing about guilty pleasures is that they aren’t things we necessarily feel guilt over, but more shame and embarrassment. So really, these are our shameful pleasures - but that sounds naughty, so we’ll stick with guilty.

Usually guilty pleasures are associated with pop culture and hobbies that are generally regarded as uncool. I’m pretty much okay with being uncool for the most part - it’s part of my charm. High School’s over! I can embrace my strangeness!

Since I like making lists, I’m going to make some TOP 5 lists:


1. All Out of Love by Air Supply - I downloaded this because of a scene in this short-lived Canadian television series called JPod. The scene involves drunken karaoke and viral video.

2. Rasputin by Boney M - I remember a girl in high school used this song in history class for a project on Rasputin. Nothing beats campy dance music.

3. I Need You Now by Lady Antebellum - I like this overplayed, country-ish, pop song.

4. Pokerface by Lady GaGa - Lady GaGa frightens me, mostly because she reminds me of a cartoon villian. She just doesn’t seem real. But damn, this song is catchy.
Listening to GaGa...shhh.

5. My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors by Moxy Fruvous - Cheesy early 90s Canadian pop! This song is a about me, I swear.


1. A Walk to Remember - Mandy Moore, Shane West, a dying girl, a bad boy. This is one of those movies you pretend to hate in mixed company, but you secretly love.

2. Just Like Heaven - Reece Witherspoon is a ghost in limbo (sorta) and Mark Ruffalo is a drunk widow. So natural they fall in love. Don’t judge me!

3. 13 Going on 30 - Another Mark Ruffalo, only this time he’s paired with Jennifer Garner. A 13 year old girl wishes she was 30, and it happens.

Hugh Grant is so delightful.
4. Notting Hill - Hugh Grant! Julia Roberts! Yes please. A famous American actress meets a bumbling awkward Brit and they fall in love. Also, his roomate Spike kills me with his “Fancy a Fuck?” t-shirt.

5. Peter Pan - One of my favourite Disney movies. I have this one on VHS and DVD. "Think of a wonderful thought! Any happy little thought!..."


1. YouTube Vlogs - My life is boring, this is why I need people on YouTube to tell me about theirs.

2. Online Shopping - I feel like my mail carrier is judging me each time he sticks an box between my doors. Or an envelope from an Etsy seller.

3. Chocolate - I may have eaten a hand full of chocolate chips straight from the bag more than once.

4. The Blogosphere - I talked about this in my Real Life vs. Blog Life post, but I don’t really talk about my blog much in real life. But I have a morning routine. I wake up, take a shower, make a cup of tea, sit with my laptop and check my email, facebook, and sometimes YouTube, then I check my blogroll. I go through all the newly posted blogs, and even go back to some I skimmed or skipped before.

5. Gossiping - It’s not nice to be talked about - but let’s face it, it happens. It’s harmless if they don’t know about it. I think a good rant and rave is perfectly healthy, just as long as you’re not directly hurting someone, right? I’m not talking about celebrity gossip (I’ve freed my mind of that stuff). So it’s bad to admit, but I enjoy gossiping. There I said it.

Okay, so let the mocking begin!

And, also, do me a favour and check out Lauren’s post from Friday - it’s really funny.

See you Wednesday Tom!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Being Realistic Has Never Been My Thing...

So when I was a little kid, my perception of reality was even worse than it is now.

In other words, I wanted to be Darkwing Duck when I grew up.  Actually, I didn't want to wait to grow up to be Darkwing Duck.  I wanted the transformation of identity to take place as soon as possible and I went around insisting that everyone addressed me as "Darkwing" instead of "Lauren."  I was four so I got away with it.  However, I still cringe whenever I revisit this vague memory I have of correcting a Sunday School teacher when they dared to call me by my non-cartoon-superhero name. 

After my fascination with Darkwing Duck, there was a brief period where I wanted to be Teddy Ruxpin.  I saw a commercial for him one time when I was experiencing my daily of dose of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and wanted to adopt his personality.  So I began insisting that people called me "Teddy."  For the record, I never actually owned a Teddy Ruxpin doll.  They are pretty frightening things.  I think my parents realized this and got me Creepy Crawlers instead. 

Once I emerged from my "I-wish-I-was-a-creepy-animatronic-bear" phase, I grasped onto an idea that was a little more realistic:  I wanted to be a "librarian hippy Elvis."  Now, I'm not really sure what that means, but I imagine it involves acting like a rock star while living in a commune and reading the occasional book.  If that's the case, I think I am what I wanted to be when I grow up.

Of course, as I got older, the dream got more specific.  I started taking piano lessons when I was eight and it wasn't long before I wanted to be Horowitz.  This ambition was fueled by a moment in a piano shop when I was in about the fourth grade.  My family was shopping for a new piano because the one we had was an octave short of a full keyboard and I was already unexpectedly outgrowing it.  So we went to this one particular piano shop where Horowitz's piano was on display and the shop owner was nice enough to let me play it.  I don't even remember what I played, but I do remember that ten-year-old Lauren was very, very happy.

My desire to be a crazy concert pianist when I grew up didn't really fade until late high school.  There was even a point in time where I would get up a couple of hours before school to practice my scales and arpegios, sneak into the band uniform room to play Chopin on a gross piano during lunch at school, then come home and spend a good portion of the afternoon/evening learning torturously difficult classical pieces.  I even got up the nerve to compete in a couple of piano competitions and always lost to crazy Asian kids.

Julliard had been on my mind as my number one college choice since I was a little kid that wanted to be Horowitz.  But when it came time to actually apply, I realized I'm not really concert pianist material.  I like to have a life outside of practicing the piano six to eight hours a day.  I like to play with other people.  I like music that has a recognizable beat.  I like to dance.  I like to rock.  I think I've always been a "librarian hippy Elvis" at heart (though I still don't really know what that means).

And with that, I shall wish you all a happy Friday and sign off for the week.  Happy Friday, amigos!  Stay tuned next week to hear about the guilty pleasures of the TASG.  I'm sure it will be a delightfully embarrassing week for all of us. 

Anyway, live long and prosper, homies. 

Lauren out.

Yes, I am the whitest kid I know.  And no, I did NOT steal my hat from Jay and Silent Bob...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Peter Pan Never Had To Grow Up...

I find that children, especially boys, tend to choose what they want to be when they grow up from a fairly limited selection; a footballer, a fireman, a policeman perhaps. Among the girls at my school were budding teachers, nurses and dancers. Other children have a talent that stands out and helps define their ambition; Allison had her art and Lauren, I imagine, was busy making music. And then there was Tom, bucking the trend, weighing the pros and cons of all the jobs the world had to offer. I knew what I wanted, and I wanted to be a button designer. *

I was very young when I decided this. I had raided my mum's sewing kit and claimed all of the spare buttons for my future business ventures. I had so many ideas, such hope, but it wasn't long before the cruel mockery I faced from my dad and my brother shattered my dream.

From that day forward, I drifted from one profession to another; from weatherman to vet, from radio DJ to archaeologist. Each idea lasted roughly a month before I got bored and moved on. Things interested me, and vague plans fluttered around briefly, but nothing stood the test of time. Was it a lack of ambition? A lack of talent? I don't think so; there were things that I was good at, and there were things I wanted to achieve. The problem was that I didn't think about it enough, mostly due to my tendency to drift off into a fantasy world at any given opportunity. I spent most of my youth in a bubble, far removed from grim reality.

My mind wandered constantly to more colourful and fantastical places. I remember taking an atlas from downstairs into my room and leaving it open on the floor, on a page about deserts. And then jumping on it. You see I'd just read [a fictional story] about a boy who could travel through pictures in books. Unsurprisingly, it didn't work. I remained in my room, standing on a book, breaking its spine. At that moment, I think, reality caught up with me. I stopped looking in wardrobes for secret passages to other worlds, and began thinking about what I would do with myself, in this world, when I grew up. Only nothing else seemed as much fun.

Lauren, over to you my American friend.

* If you think that's bad, my brother wanted to be a zebra. I blame our parents.

Monday, 8 November 2010

"I Don't I Feel that I Have to Explain My Art to You, Warren."

Here is an "Artistic" cellphone photo of my eyes
because I'm mysterious and interesting!
When I was a little girl I would travel up to my grandparents’ lake house near North Bay, Ontario with my family. While my dad and brother liked to fish, I preferred to play alone or follow my grandma around while she gardened. One summer I got out some paper and glue and picked flowers and plants from around the property and made people out of them. My mom thought I was some sort of creative genius. I was was just doing what I do.

This week the Transatlantic Support Group is posting about what we wanted to be when we grew up as kids. While some girls wanted to be ballerinas, and others teachers or actresses, I wanted to be an artist.

I remember being in preschool and not really caring about building blocks or counting and learning my ABCs. What I really loved to do was paint. I’d happily put on my smock and paint away (I usually wanted the pink paint, as I was heavy into my pink/Barbie phase of life).

My whole life I have been surrounded by fabulous artists. My uncle went to college for illustration and he always bought me arts and craft supplies from the store he worked at. My aunt is incredibly talented and always made wonderful things. My cousin is a painter, a stained glass artist (she taught me) and a fantastic crafter and knitter. My paternal grandmother knit. While my own parents aren’t so much interested in these things themselves, they always encouraged me to be creative.

In grade 8 I proclaimed that I wanted to be an artist when my teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. What did I know about real life?

By high school I started to feel jaded about it all. I didn’t get along with my art teacher - her and I had different visions. Aside from grade 10, when she was gone on maternity leave, I fought for my art all throughout high school.

I fought when she thought I should put a hat on the person I painted. I fought when she thought my lino block print needed a bit of jazzying up. I fought when she didn’t want to grade my painting early so I could boost my midterm mark for university applications. My grade 10 substitute art teacher, however, thought I was awesome.

It was probably my high school art teacher that scared me away from wanting to pursue art in a serious way. I didn’t want to have to answer to someone. I didn’t want my art to be judged. By my final year of high school I was more into writing and English anyways, so I left art behind and became a dabbler.

I did some creative things in university too. In first year I took a photography class - and it was my only A+ ever in a course. My T.A. was a hippy from the east coast who was into Kurt Cobain conspiracy theories and wore tartan patterned Doc Martins. She gave us our grades on Monopoly money and pretty much let us be as creative as we wanted. While the professor was a hard-ass about lighting and aperture and exposure, my T.A. - Lori - was super cool.

After first year I let my creativity bled into my writing and didn’t really take any more art courses. In third and fourth year I was required to take a design course. I learned page layouts and stuff and that was fun. My art background really paid off here, as I felt I had an edge over a lot of the other students.

Now, well, I have my own Etsy Shop and I still paint sometimes (very rarely). I like taking photos and creating images for my blog and stuff. While I now know that I probably can’t be an artist by trade, I can still be an artist in life. Because when it comes down to it my occupation is only one thing about me. When I’m not at work I’m doing other things. It’s funny that while I said I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, I had no concept of the fact that I already was one.

Tom, did you want to be a firefighter or a ninja when you grew up? Can't wait to read yours on Wednesday!

Here are examples of my work over the years:

Tom, this painting was done using a photo I took in Cambridge, England.

Abstract painting from High School Art.

Mixed Media Self-portrait. I made my own glazed tiles.

This is in my parent's pool table/bar room.

Two summer's ago - My cottage view.

Painting that my teacher thought should have a hat.
"But I worked so hard on the hair!"

Friday, 5 November 2010

Maybe I Should Just Be A Nun...

It's taken me forever to write this post. I think I'm the one that came up with this topic in the first place, but it's proven fairly difficult to write about. I don't want to come off as too bitchy, too whiny, or too psycho-feministy. I apologize in advance for the cynical word vomit you are about to read.

I think I've spent a long time wondering if there's something wrong with me because I can't seem to maintain a healthy, functional relationship of the romantic variety. But lately I've begin to think that there's just something wrong with them. Or maybe I'm just only attracted to men that are emotionally unstable (and potentially homosexual).

Really, I think the next time I go on a date, I'm going to hand him an application. I'll let him buy me dinner and I'll eat it while he fills it out. Then I'll conduct an interview over the remainder of dinner. The date will end, I'll contact a few of his references and review his application, then either send him a flirtatious text message to keep things going or delete him from my phone entirely. Sounds like a fantastic way to stream line things, doesn't it?

I think part of my application might look a little bit like this:

Check all that apply:

- I live with my mother.
- I have a bossy sister who controls my life.
- I'm a recovered porn addict who is now a religious fanatic.
- I have a girlfriend that God told me to marry, but I'd rather not tell you and spend several weeks leading you on.
- I don't like to touch girls.
- I'm only going to call you when I'm involved in a social situation that requires me to have a girlfriend.
- I'm Pentecostal.
- One time, I tried to start my own cult.
- I'm going to act like I'm completely not interested in you and then years after you've moved on I'm going to get drunk and tell you how attracted I am to you.
- Sometimes when I go out to eat, I keep the menu in my hand while I'm shovelling food into my mouth just in case I want to order more food.
- I think it's okay to call you my "gal pal."
- I'm on a cosmic quest to find the "anti-soma" and do a lot of "science experiments" in my room.
- I don't know you exist.
- I will make you feel terrible for never going to church.
- I'm gay.
- I liked X-Men 3.
- I'm going to let you fall completely in love with me, then totally distance myself from you. Then when we finally break up, I'm going to blatantly remind you that we're never getting back together every time you slip up and contact me.
- I'm going to try to be the drummer for your band, but all I really want to play is "Don't Stop Believin."
- I'm not interested in you at all, but I will constantly tell you how hot your friends are.
- I look really good in women's clothing.
- I can't dance.
- I'm always going to make you listen to loud Scandinavian metal in my car.
- I'll make you watch geeky science fiction movies and then leave right when they're over.
- I'll say I'm making you a nice dinner and then cook instant mashed potatoes with a side of Hamburger Helper.
- I haven't cleaned my bathroom since 2006.
- Whenever I go to a sandwich shop, I eat a lot of pickles and then I don't brush my teeth afterwards.
- I'm obsessed with myself.
- I 'd rather hang out with my friends on a Friday night than hang out with you. You can join us though. It's only a group of like 20 million generic, uninteresting people that enjoy having bland, surface-level conversations while drinking Mountain Dew and playing Rock Band.
- I will never understand your music.
- I won't understand your writing either.
- I won't read your blog, but you can read mine.
- When you text me late at night because you're lonely, I'll tell you I need to sleep.
- When you open up to me about stuff that's been going on in your head, I'll politely listen, but then I'll tell you to leave so I can get eight hours of sleep.
- I'll let my hair grow into obnoxious, mullet-esque lengths.
- I'll guilt-trip you into going to my awkward family reunions.
- I'll make you go camping even though I know you hate camping.
- For Christmas, I'll burn you DVDs of pirated TV shows that won't work on your DVD player.
- I'll write you a song...about transvestites.
- I'll whine about my job all of the time even though you're unemployed.
- I'm just an asshole in general.

Um...yeah, that theoretical application is not based on personal experience at all.

Okay, it totally is.

On second thought, I think I'm going to scrap the whole dating application idea and just NOT DATE. Maybe be a nun. Or maybe just a really bad ass independent chick who doesn't need a man.

After all, if the rock star thing works out, having a boyfriend (serious or otherwise) will only get in the way.

And I'm still recovering from the latest relationship fiasco. Dated him for almost a year, which is both a long time and not a long time simultaneously. Broke up a couple months ago. It was a mutual break-up, but he kind of evolved into a cold-hearted jerk after that. I had let myself become wrapped up in the idea that we would be together for a long time, so when he was "just not feeling the same way about you anymore, sorry" two weeks after the break-up, it was a little devastating. But it's no use being all hung-up over it. Being single really isn't that bad most of the time. Actually, it's a little bit liberating.

The good thing about having terrible luck with men is that I have an infinite amount of sitcom material and songwriting inspiration. Some of my best songs have been written in response to stupid boys being, well, stupid. Lyrics inspired by said boys include:

"Think I'm working over time trying to make you happy/ But all you do is whine/ Then get all weird and sappy."

"There's something wrong with you/ Don't try to give me an excuse/ Or sit and yell at me/ I do not want to hear it anymore!"

"I am an iceberg/ I am a glacier/ you are a green house gas and you're eating/ through the ozone layer/ so now I am melting."

"I'm not your mannequin! You're not my man!"

These are all pretty great songs, so I really should thank those stupid boys for being so stupid.

Unfortunately, the one love song in my band's repertoire was written for my most recent ex-boyfriend. It was a crowd favorite, but it's permanently off the set list because I cannot sing the lyrics "Night turns into day/ and you still haven't gone away" without becoming a little bit like Adam Sandler in "The Wedding Singer" when he sings the song he wrote for his ex-girlfriend (I'm sure you know the scene, it's kind of infamous).

Anyway, that's all I've got for this week. I should stop before I get completely bitter and bitchy. As hard as it was to write about this topic, it felt pretty good to throw all of that out there. Hopefully it even made you laugh a little bit. I'm laughing as I'm rereading this mess.

Ah, boys! Why must you be so dumb?

Oh well. I've got myself. That's all I really need in this crazy world, right?

With that, I shall say "farewell." Happy Friday, friends!

Time to hide behind ye olde pillow...

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

A Carnival of Horrors

I was in an incredibly bad mood last night, so I've woken up early to write this post as I didn't want to depress you - or come across like a bitter and raving old grump. That said, it is ridiculously early so if this makes no sense, you know why.

As Allison has already explained, this week we're tackling the thorny topic that is relationships. I'll be writing about this from the in-a-relationship side of the fence, but I have no wish to appear smug or patronising. This will be no tale of candle-lit dinners, romantic walks on the beach or chocolates on Valentine's Day. Far from it, in fact.

Relationships change you, or at least they've changed me. Sometimes the change is for the good, at others it's the opposite. The transformations I've been through so far have been wild and unpredictable, and that's what I'd like to talk about. I ask you prepare yourselves as I'm about to introduce you to a carnival of horrors, a procession of the nightmarish personalities known collectively as Tom In A Relationship.

Actually, before I unveil them, let me say this; I was 20 when I entered into the relationship I'm in now. What's more, it was supposed to be a one-night stand. Don't judge me - the expectation was the same on both sides, and I was about to move to Italy for a year. Ideal ground for sowing the seeds of a relationship it was not. Anyway, Tom, stop putting this off.

Tom the Hypocrite: as mentioned above, a month after meeting my significant other, I moved to Italy. It became a long-distance relationship before it had had the time to become a long-term one. This separation paved the way for the release of one of the most hideous elements of my character. Poor N would go for a night out with friends and be inundated with bitter, shitty little texts from yours trully. 'Where are you?' 'Who's there?' 'Bollocks! who is really there and where are you, really?' Oh the shame. But that's not the worst of it, despite the above, I would fly off the handle if I ever received anything similar. "Stop suffocating me. I'm trying to enjoy myself. I'm allowed out whenever I want. OH MY GOD GET OUT OF MY FACE!" Remembering this actually makes me feel awful. In this instance, I blame my age. Honestly, I was incredibly immature and completely unprepared for a relationship. I'd hope that I've improved somewhat since.

Tom the Green-eyed Monster: as the above suggests, the younger Tom was prone to regular bouts of insane jealousy. When Jealous Mode was activated, I had the power to remember passwords for email accounts, for facebook, passcodes for mobile phones, and would spend hours ferretting out information on misdeeds or inappropriate conversations. I was a detective, immersing myself in correspondence that was not meant for my eyes. Or an archaeologist, scraping away the present to reveal hidden secrets from the past. I was insatiable, and infuriating. This ridiculous behaviour ('scratching' as it came to be called) continued for a long time before I was stuck with an epiphany that didn't kill the evil green-eyed monster, but has succeeded in burying it underground. I've posted a legion of my best knights around the entrance to its subterranean hovel to ensure it remains as far from the light of day as possible.

Tom the Angry Drunk: When I was young, free and single, I was quite a happy drunk - either that or I'd drink so much I lost the ability to talk. The arrival of N, however, coincided with the arrival of a new drunken Tom, one that shouted and swore and, worst of all, regularly ran away. For three New Year's Eves in a row, I spent half the night outside on my own. Three years in a row, N had to come and get me. One time that I really don't want to elaborate on, my dad had to come and get me. Oh my God, thinking about it is filling me with woe. It became a running joke. People would place bets on how long it would be before I kicked off. N quite rightly stopped coming to look for me when I ran away, leaving me hiding behind camper vans in car parks in the cold, knowing that I'd come back eventually, my tail between my legs. In time, I realised how ridiculous I had become. The Angry Drunk was therefore defeated, it seems. He is a thing of the past, a legend, a story people tell to scare children.

As I've mentioned, these horrible traits were largely, I think, down to immaturity. I've successfully killed some off and hidden others which has led to a happier, less turbulent life. But relationships change you in other ways, too. You become a different person. I don't want to quote the Spice Girls but 'two become one' does come to mind. For example, before N came along, I hated rock music. Last Saturday I went to an Avenged Sevenfold gig. That's a stupid example but you get my point, through sharing time and experiences you lose some of yourself and replace it with elements of the person you're with. I often find myself wondering who I'd be if I hadn't met N - I have a sneaking suspicion I'd be a complete chav, so I owe him a favour, really. And actually, I feel a bit better having written this. I've never blogged about anything this personal, really, so it's new to me. If nothing else, remembering what a complete bastard I've been in the past has reassured me that nowadays I'm not all that bad! Well done TASG for restoring some of my self-confidence.

And now, over to the girl that rocks restaurants...Lauren, take it away.

An accurate depiction of how I once was. In fact, I'm pretty sure this a 'Tom the Hypocrite moment'.

Monday, 1 November 2010

F%#k it, I'm Just Going to Get a Bunch of Cats

This week The Transatlantic Support Group is discussing “Relationships or Lack Thereof.” Though I try to be all feminist and think “I am fine alone, I don’t need a man,” it’s hard sometimes - especially now that we’re in our twenties and our friends are pairing off, getting married and having babies, buying houses and stuff. There’s so much pressure on us! Have a career, settle down, have your own life. But it’s scary and hard and I don’t want to!


Okay, so I keep a lot of notebooks and journals and I never throw them out or even tear out pages. Because of this I can tell you that in May 2009 I came up with the four guys who’ve captivated my heart and made me crazy, and I of course gave them hilarious nicknames. It’s been over a year since then, but I’d say the list still stands.

Before I share these with you, I must add that I suck at relationships. Seriously. Don’t ever ask me for advice because I am a lost cause. I choose horrible and/or unavailable people who turn me into a crazy person. That said, I’m going to try to present these as light-heartedly as possible, but in some cases it will be hard to hide the pain/anger/sadness.

Also, back in 2009 I made this graphic featuring South Park characters for each of them, because I thought I might write about them on My Quarter-Life Crisis, but I got nervous and never did. I didn’t want them to accidently (or purposely) stumble upon my blog. we go...

1. Bi-Polar - He’s my number one heartbreak story of all time, with a bullet. We met in high school, he was 17, I was 16. He wore a cute hat and played guitar. We became friends, sort of. We talked on the phone a lot and I always felt like I was close to getting somewhere with him, but he always said nice things, then retracted. Invited me out, then cancelled. This went on for three years. When I started university we didn’t speak for almost four years and I stupidly let him back into my life - because I thought it would be different than before. It wasn’t. Only we were adults and nothing hurts more than being 24-years-old and falling for the same old shit you fell for when you were 17. I’ve slipped up a few times since we last ended things (for the second time). Sorry this wasn’t that funny, I just can’t really think of anything funny to say about this. He played me hot and cold for four and half years combined. This has taught me that drunken emails are a bad idea and you should leave the past in the past.

Listen to: Us Remains Impossible by Matthew Good

2. Baby Daddy - For a more lighthearted story, meet Baby Daddy. When I was 17 I got my first real job at a kiosk in the mall, and he worked at my favourite record store. He was older, smoked (not that that’s cool), and had crazy hair. He used to talk to me all the time on his breaks. He was 22 at the time. Over the years our paths would cross and I always thought he was so adorable and funny and crazy - but I knew I was just a silly high school girl. Later on, during one of my summer’s home from university, our path’s would cross again. In a dirty basement bar he told me how he always liked me and asked me why we never made out. This caught me off guard because It had never occurred to me that he liked me too. So awkwardly, in front of my friend (sorry Amanda) he tried to kiss me. I was pretty much paralyzed by fear and shock. Anyways, after seven gin and tonics I feeling pretty good about that situation, so I gave him my number and he promised to call. I waited. And waited...and waited some more. He never called. Now he has a wife and a baby.

Listen to: Kiss by Prince

3. The Cowardly Manwhore - Never, ever start up a naughty text relationship with one of your friends. Cowardly and I got caught up in a virtual mess that never actually led to anything meaningful and ended with him “dumping” me VIA text telling me he now had a girlfriend! It was so humiliating. I was so hurt by this that I asked him to please talk to me in person. Instead of doing that he avoided me for three and a half years. Also, I should mention that he and I went out several times on what felt like legitimate dates. The good news is that we’re finally speaking again, so that’s good - but we no longer have each other’s cell numbers. [You guys are forcing me to reveal embarrassing stories, jeez].

Listen to: 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon

4. Hey! Jude - Hey! Jude knows I exist, but he doesn’t know that in my mind he’s my boyfriend and I’ve named all the dogs we’re gonna have together. He’ll play music, I’ll write and create art on the side, and we’ll just have this fantastic life on the fringe together. I’m insane. I know. Also, I have the same last name as his ex, which doesn’t bode well for me. Chances are I’ll just pine over him from afar for a bit longer until someone new captures my attention. Oh, I met him because he used to play shows with my cousin’s husband. Now, I just stalk him on Facebook and attend the occasional gig. I’ve probably revealed too much already. But if you’re reading this Hey! Jude, want to grab a cup of coffee sometime?

Listen to: Green Eyes by Coldplay

Okay, so now you know how unstable I am. Go ahead, un-follow me, I can take it. I’ve been dumped by a text message - I can handle it. Actually, I can’t...please don’t leave me!

As an added bonus, here are some honourable mentions:

The Dog Guy - a cute customer of mine at the cafe, who had an adorable dog. He and I chatted a few times, but he has since disappeared (or moved). I’m pretty sure he was a borderline alcoholic who hated women though.

Cartoon Boy - another former customer of mine. He was an animator and once he brought in a Star Wars figurine he bought on ebay to show me. He moved up north and I was sad.

The Hot T.A. - he was my T.A. for my first year writing class and he was so good looking he made me nervous. He was a former hockey player, who probably has his PhD in Social and Political Thought by now. I used to sit next to him.

Buddy Holly - he was my grade 9 crush. I used to walk by his locker and freak out because I was just a kid and he was all cool and wore Chuck Taylors and thick black glasses and played guitar. Naturally I hated his girlfriend, even though she was a perfectly nice person. In grade 10, after he was graduated, I used his old locker. It was way out of the way from most of my classes.

Mr. Clarke - Mr. Clarke was my soccer coach when I was in grade 10 (I think). He was a girl on my team’s older brother. He was so cute and I thought I was cooler than I probably was back then.

My Grade 6-8 Crush - He was the most popular boy at school, and I was the most awkward. He made it all worth while by dancing with me at the grade 8 grad dance.

So there you have it you know that I am terrible at meeting decent people and my “relationships” have all been very unstable and unhealthy.

Tom - I trust you have something witty and British to say about this topic on Wednesday. I’ll be over here, weeping into my virtual pillow.

Lauren - Thanks for the topic suggestion - I would have never had the balls to post this on my main blog. Having back up helps.

Readers - Thank you for making it to the end of this post! I don’t think I ever thought to ask this, but if you guys have any ideas for topics, please share them in the comments. We have made a list ourselves, but feedback and suggestions would be fabulous!