Spring is the Easter bunny // Long-weekend vibes

FullSizeRenderEaster long-weekend couldn’t have come at a better time. Is it just me, or are short (4-day) work weeks always the busiest? It’s as if the Friday off – and those 8-9 hours – get crammed into the other weekdays. I even hopped on my email this morning to ensure tomorrow’s deadlines are met.

Friday off was wonderful. Not only did I get to spend extra time with Emilia-Bedilia (my mother), but we stayed in and watched our favourite TV series’ together (obviously with a nice hot cup of tea). This was in preparation for the immense grocery shopping we had to do the next day for Easter Sunday.

Every Easter I forget how many Italian-Canadian traditions we really have. But, as everyone is getting older (more specifically, my cousins and I) some of these have been tweaked to better suit our growing families. I never thought as a kid that the core of our traditions (us all being together) would come to an end. Though, time and time again, I’ve come to realize that change is inevitable. It’s the only constant in life. You gotta adapt.

As I ventured over to my Nonna’s on Saturday, I walked-in on a baking frenzy. There, inside her basement kitchen – typical Italian with two kitchens in her house – she was baking traditional easter bread. Not only that, but she had lasagna’s on the way, sweet bread with sprinkles, poor man’s pie (salami & cheese), and sweetened rice pie – TIMES THREE EACH. She made one of everything for each of her daughter’s families.

Italians never go hungry and neither do the people who date them. Poor Rhys. He doesn’t know what’s coming. That’s the second constant in life. You always leave full and with leftovers.

On that note, my mom is calling me to help her wrap asparagus with bacon. I hope that each of you has a delicious long-weekend. And that the Easter bunny was good to you.

 

 

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Commuting problems // TTC

Every month (for the most part) I purchase an adult TTC pass for $141.00 (with taxes). But, if you’re experiencing the current state of the Toronto transit system, you wouldn’t know it. How could people pay this much for a system that is so archaic? I have made an effort to complain less about commuting; however, as the year’s go by, the TTC is getting worse and worse.

Just the other day, they had to shut down a huge chunk of the main subway line (Bloor/Yonge to Union) during morning rush hour. Luckily, my route went untouched, or so I thought. Instead of having enough back up buses to act as shuttle buses during these type of emergencies, they took TTC buses off their normally scheduled routes. Of course this lead to a crowd of up to 15-20 angry people at my bus stop (Route 53 to Finch) waiting for a bus that wasn’t going to come at its regular time.

Below is an account from one of my morning commutes to work. This experience has opened my eyes to how desperately we need more intersecting subway lines, how bad it must be for people who suffer from being claustrophobic, and compassionate towards those who stand their entire commute.

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To my surprise I had to stand when I got on the train at Finch this morning. Usually I don’t settle, and wait for the next train in order to get a seat, but I was running late. As was the TTC – I soon found out – it was behind schedule due to traffic again.

There I was, standing up against the wall beside the doors. I really wanted to indulge in my reading. Meg and I have jumped into Oliver Twist.

Though I am a bit under the weather with a cold, and it being my time of the month (ugh), I continued to read – not noticing how warm it started to get.

I had a toque on and my lama scarf but my lightest winter coat. As each stop approached, more people crammed in, so much so – that I no longer had any personal space.

Sounds like the norm for the TTC here in Toronto, doesn’t it?

Except this time I was stuck against the clear wall where the doors open. One stop away from where I get off, and there it was, panic setting sin. I started to get a hot flash of anxiety. Sweating now – I knew I needed to get off and ingest some fresh, cold winter air. My vision was going fuzzy, in-and-out, almost permanently black. Was I really going to faint?

Davisville is an outdoor station, and thankfully I got off there – stripped off my winter layers and sat on the cold bench.

I did not want to be one of those people who pushes the Emergency Alarm during rush hour. I refused. My nerves kicked back in once I realized I had to be brave and get back on a packed train for the duration of one more station.

Well, I did it. I had no choice. Once at work – I still felt panicky, and apparently to Paula (my co-worker) I looked green. This made sense as I felt nauseous and overwhelmed. 

The Toronto subway system is lacking on so many levels. I know it does its best, but it’s not enough. Our infrastructure is severely hurting and for people like me who are prone to anxiety and panic attacks – it’s clearly not great for my mental health.

Get your shit together TTC. We need more central lines, or more frequent trains. I  now understand why people faint on a daily basis. I will no longer judge them. That was almost me. 

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Snorkel & they will come // Tortugas

IMG_1895Remember that episode of friends where they’re all in Barbados for Ross’ conference? A little kid tells Joey that there’s a turtle who will chase you if you blow bubbles in its face. He wonders, “what do you do when he starts to chase you?” Good question, Joey. Good question.

In Akumal, Mexico, Rhys and I snorkelled with turtles. This was my first time snorkelling, ever! And it should’ve dawned on me that I have a weak gag reflex prior to putting on the mask. To snorkel, you must place a piece of plastic in your mouth. This is connected to a tube that allows you to breathe air. Well, I don’t do so great with things in my mouth. And, yes, I do know how that sounds. Even when I brush my teeth – I gag sometimes.

However, the turtles and Akumal’s Barrier Wreath were too good to pass up. Even if my swimming skills are less than par. Lucky for me, Rhys is a trained lifeguard. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ve also been on Nexus Tours & Excursions during past trips to Cuba – and they have amazing tour guides. 


So, we were suited up, and walked down the beach. Got into the ocean. Tested our equipment. Then suddenly someone’s wife began to walk away. “This isn’t for me,” she said. Uh oh. I looked at Rhys, so natural in the water. I knew I was in for it. But, it was too late to turn back.

There was our tour guide/instructor and then there was a camera guy/instructor – both in the water with us. Not even twenty minutes into the excursion, I ducked my head down into the water to see all the so called “tortugas” – and there it was. A massive turtle fast approaching me. Sheer panic set-in and I tried to swim away. The turtle, however, chased me. It followed me to the point where it was right beside my body. Swimming parallel to me. The camera guy then approached me and I got a warning for almost kicking the turtle.

F***. I felt terrible. Again looked over at Rhys, who was now laughing, and we both tried to swim on. I had to stay afloat with my face ducked under the water. You know how that goes. 

IMG_1902We continued on our tortuga and barrier wreath tour, only to come across MORE turtles. Don’t I get in trouble AGAIN because another turtle swam into my body?? Of course I did. I apologized profusely and asked the camera man to readjust my goggles that were slipping down the back of my head and over my face. Luckily, there was no harm done and he felt bad for me once I showed him my equipment’s faulty fitting.

Finally, I got the hang of it – that whole floating and lightly kicking to swim thing – while looking under the water. And you know what? Snorkelling is super relaxing. I didn’t see any other turtles during the remainder of our time floating along the Barrier Wreath, but the colourful fish and plants were amazing! Whenever I start to panic these days, I just think about what it was like to breathe and float. Just breathe and float. That’s all that was on my mind in Mexico. And of course – I’ll be forever haunted by those tortugas chasing me. Ugh, nature. 

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The Catcher in the Rye //

IMG_9179Despite our long distance relationship –Meagan and I continue to read together – albeit in two different cities. She’s all the way in Ottawa (where I went to university) and I’m a four to five hour drive away in Toronto. I must say, this Book Club for Two has kept us close. Our goofy personalities keep it lively, and of course our intellectual debates – that tend to be more down to earth and enjoyable than some of my stiff university classes – are always a pleasurable experience.

We finished Cather in the Rye by J. D. Salinger  in 2015, but with my writing hiatus in full effect – I didn’t let you know. Well, here we go. I’m going to do my best to remember what I thought about this classic high-school novel.

*SPOILER ALERT*

Subway iPhone notes:

  • Narrator -Holden Caulfield – is kind of an asshole
  • Mental illness due to trauma or PTSD
  • His sister helps him cope, but not many others provide him with that sense of comfort
  • I hate phoniness as much as Holden
  • Unsatisfying ending

“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around—nobody big, I mean—except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.”

– J. D. Salinger

Automatically, the title intrigued us. It’s in our nature to want to understand things. Especially when something is symbolic or foreshadowing. The author does not give anything away here, so you’re drawn in by the narration.

The problem for me was, Holden is such a brat. Honestly, he has asshole tendencies, and though he hates fake people (which includes practically everyone he meets) he too tends to put on a facade. His public image is not always his true self.

Later in the book we realize why that is – and it becomes clear that Holden is having difficulty dealing with his deceased sibling. He tends to put himself in situations that are harmful to him. Calling a prostitute to come to his hotel room, or visiting his old teacher who seems to have sexually abused him in the pass – are both circumstances that he freely enters into. Though, it could be assumed that Holden is overreacting when his teacher touches his forehead. It was pretty blurry to me as I read on the subway.

The timeframe is neat, and I enjoyed that it was one weekend of the young boy’s life in New York (where his family lives). Holden’s relationship with his younger sister is one of compassion, understanding and love. Phoebe is younger, yet more mature. She really hears Holden and understands him.

Overall, Holden grew on me as a character, and I began to understand him. He seems to want to save kids from adulthood – at least that’s the interpretation that Meagan and I had after reading.

 

 

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Accidental Hiatus //

I didn’t notice at first, but soon – one month passed, then two – all of a sudden four and now six months – had gone by. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. I go through these weird, awkward phases where I feel compelled to say something. Anything. Though nothing comes to mind. Random things flood my brain all the time, but nothing seems committable to “paper.”

I didn’t feel like sharing. 2015 wasn’t my favourite year to be completely honest, so it turns out – I didn’t have the energy to write. Even with many wonderful and crazy-beautiful things developing – I just wasn’t feeling it.

After taking so much time off from the blog, though, I feel like I’ve lost my creative groove. This blog is something that I took pride in. Something I started a few years ago to prove that I could manage a social media channel – a place to write about relevant, fun, meaningful and touching topics. I think it’s time to get back there, and I have some topics in mind.

I don’t think I’m going to write too frequently, but enough to share some cool things I’ve done in the last six months. Our Book Club for Two continues to take place during my subway commutes to work, which I love. With a list of topics I’m dying to cover, here we go 2016. Bring it. I’m ready.

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Yes Please! // Amy Poehler is our comedy hero

IMG_8607Honestly, it shouldn’t have taken me this long to read this incredible book. It’s SO heavy though. Literally. You know I love reading on the subway, but lugging this hard cover with high quality paper around was too much for me. I can appreciate the thick paper stock that Amy selected, I’m all about books versus Kobo e-readers, yet I tended to be reluctant to bring it with me. It’s not looking good for hardcovers. Although, Mindy Kaling’s memoir – a soft cover with crappy paper – doesn’t even compare.

All in all, I’ve never had so many pull quotes from one source in my life. Amy is wise, hilarious and to the point when she busts out life lessons or something she’s learned and wants to share with her readers. According to Meagan (and I agree) Amy gives advice in an honest way that isn’t condescending. Her levels of vulnerability as she discusses her divorce, kids, career and journey through life, makes you want to listen. Deeply listen. Not only is Amy a people person, but she is both street smart and book smart – in the words of Meagan.

IMG_8604I wouldn’t feel right not quoting Amy in this post, so below you’ll find the top 10 quotes that I fell in love with during this read. Enjoy.

  1. “Did you know that when your water breaks the best thing to do is stand up? Your baby acts like a plug.”
  2. “The pressure of ‘what are you going to do?’ makes everybody feel like they haven’t done anything yet.”
  3. “It’s easier to be brace when you’re not alone.”
  4. “My only job was to surround myself with people who respected and supported that choice. Being foolish was the smartest thing to do.”
  5. “I’m at the point in my life now where delivering a b-minus performance on a televised show with some of my comedy heroes doesn’t ruin my week. I don’t know if that is the most inspiring or most depressing sentence I have ever typed, but there you have it.”
  6. “The only thing we can depend on in life is that everything changes. The seasons, our partners, what we want and need.”
  7. “Your ability to navigate and tolerate change and its painful uncomfortableness directly correlates to your happiness and general well-being.”
  8. “Life is endings and beginnings.”
  9. “I think that if you can dance and be free and not embarrassed you can rule the world.”
  10. “The only way we will survive is by being kind. The only way we can get by in this world is through the help we receive from others. No one can do it alone, no matter how great the machines are.”

P.s. This was our favourite Female Comedian Memoir. To read about the others we’ve read click here for Mindy and here for Lena.

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Goodbyes make me cry // Solo Traveller

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// #SunnyDee

IMG_6194Let me start by saying Sunny is one of the bravest women I know. Not only does she jump right into many aspects of her life (living in a new city, climbing the career ladder and her personal life choices), but as a solo traveller too. 

I couldn’t do what she is doing, but that’s why I admire her. Not only did she quit her job to embark on an entire year of travelling the world, but she started a new project amidst all of this planning. Getting her own website up (called 32 degrees & Sunny), linking her instagram and planning to freelance while she’s away, are just a few of the things she has set into motion. 

I’m not scared for her at all. I know she is going to succeed and be fulfilled – heart and soul – by the places she visits, people she meets along the way and memories she makes. 

LoveThough a year apart doesn’t seem long – it is. She’s truly the ying to my yang – as she is carefree, not easily stressed and truly embraces freedom in ways I can’t. Though our dreams may be different (hers travelling the world and mine to own real estate in Toronto) she’s special to me in ways that are indescribable. 

We do have a plan though. Next summer. Her and I will meet. In Spain. I cannot wait! If there is one thing you need to know about Sunny, it’s that she gives the best, strongest and most loving hugs. Even when I woke her up at 5am to check my eyelid that was swollen from a mosquito bite, despite being pissed about it, she was there. That’s a friendship that will last the test of time.

Bon voyage my love!

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