Feb 15, 2017
The dream started off with me residing in some kind of high-fantasy world of magic and mystery. It was almost as if my family and friends and coworkers had been transported into the world inhabited by my novel. I was somehow both character and creator; I took a meta-step back at one point and completely re-oriented the world map by ninety degrees, after which I manifested griffin wings on my back and flew away.
My dream then changed, I was visiting Venice with my husband. I’ve been to Venice, so I know what it looks like, but the hotel and the river below looked nothing like Venice, and I keep dreaming about this exact same location repeatedly, a bridge and barrier and cobblestones and side streets and tall buildings of quaint design that obscure the sky. I’ve been dreaming about this place since #summersixteen, again and again. Last night it was Venice. Some nights it’s Toronto, or Boston, or Chicago.
I wonder if anyone else also dreams of an unfamiliar place over and over again.
Feb 7, 2017
I have been married for not even two years but due to circumstances (namely, being the household's primary chef), my cooking skills have advanced by quite a bit. Would it be weird to say that I’d like to thank Instagram for motivating me to keep up with my domestically talented friends?
Not only do I have a number of dishes I can whip up with tasty accuracy in less than an hour of prep, I have also triumphed over one-time creations that fill me with pride. I still can’t get over the strawberry shortcake I baked this past summer. I made it as per the request of my mother, served it at a family BBQ to compliments all around. There were gingerbread and triple chocolate chip cookies a couple Christmases ago. I’ve made fudgesicles from scratch. Apple pie croissants and chocolate chip croissants. Southwestern burrito bowls and taco skillet spaghetti are regular features at home. I make cupcakes galore, beef lasagna and pierogi casserole, butter chicken and haleem.
None of this would be possible without the aid of all the kitchen appliances I’ve acquired in the past couple years. Life in the kitchen is infinitely more reasonable when you have high quality knives & mixing bowls, a stand-mixer, a four quart crockpot, a high power blender, silicone baking sheets and utensils, and fancy tips for piping icing.
The fact that I cook for two greatly helps with grocery shopping and cooking as well. Stuff goes bad less often because it's consumed that much faster.
I actually have a task list for 2017 that includes dishes I want to make, either for the first time or as a 2nd time repeat. That's how much things have changed, from "fuck this shit" to "#goals".
It's no coincidence, then, that I am waaaaay fatter than I used to be haha. I hear that married life does that to a girl.
Feb 6, 2017
The model I got was the LG V20. My heart had been set on the new Pixel, but my phone company doesn’t carry it. The V20’s interface is pretty similar my old phone (Nexus 5) but there are a few features that I miss not having. Even so, I’m happy with the purchase. No regrets. I even have a fancy new case for it, the kind that opens like a book and you can slip your bank cards and cash inside the front flap.
I was reading comparison reviews after I brought the phone home (I know, counter-productive) and the V20 isn't actually rated all that highly. Competitors like the Pixel XL, the OnePlus 3, and the Galaxy 7 Edge are touted as much better alternatives. Only the 7 Edge was a potential option for me, and I deeply dislike that curved screen. Also, it would have been almost $300 more wtf. The V20 was ~on sale~ and therefore a steal, making it the same price as the LG G5.
There's so much customization and tweaking still to be done, so happy with my shiny new toy. ;D
Feb 1, 2017
I drove to work and as the sun came up to my right, the clouds started to glow red and pink and purple, texturized with airplane contrails. I stared at the colours and thought, we were meant to be free, we were meant to fly. But I was surrounded by hundreds of others like me, trapped in small metal boxes, on our way to even bigger boxes of glass and wood and steel.
I drove by a plain sign that said Toronto Warehouse Outlet and grew confused for a moment. I’m in Toronto? Yes, I’m in Toronto. This is not New York or Vancouver or London or Reykjavik. Something so familiar to me was, for a second, wholly unfamiliar. Where is my mind going? What other lands has it been travelling to?
I thought, I need more coffee. I took a big swig from my travel mug.
I’m now old enough that I can look back at the breadth of my life and see an almost infinite amount of decisions and choices that were made. I see an infinite number of parallel universes, all the roads not travelled. Then I spend my spare time wandering other roads I can never travel, the ones that involve spaceships and ancient magic and flying like a bird. At night, my mind fuses the two together. I’m living in Accra as a writer and a part time real-estate agent, when suddenly espers emerge from the ground and wage war on humankind.
I’ve been obsessed with the end of the world lately. It started in such a silly way. I was watching an LP for Final Fantasy XIII-2 months ago and I found myself weirdly & excitedly haunted when Serah visited Noel’s world, its grey dunes and roving monsters and dying sun. Imagine being the last person alive. Imagine living on the dead husk of a planet with only shadows and memories to keep you company.
There is a hairline fracture that separates us from the fantastical. Those early morning hours, when my mind hasn’t quite locked onto reality, I peer through a cloudy film and squint at the layers of the world. We are somebody else’s storybook. The storybook is one stroke away from coming to life. Who am I? Where is my mind going?
Dec 31, 2016
5. Beyoncé - Hold Up
Come on, there HAD to be at least one track from Lemonade up in here. Hard to sing but worth it.
4. Stellar - Sting
The first Kpop entry; this group/song came out of nowhere and rapidly won my heart.
3. Purity Ring - heartsigh
Technically released end of 2015 but I didn't hear it until January. Purity Ring hits another one out of the park.
2. Red Velvet - Ice Cream Cake
I consider this my favourite song of 2016, can't get enough of it!
1. Ariana Grande - Into You
I am... fairly shocked that this is my most listened track for 2016. But I love singing along to it.
Sep 12, 2016
I've had this dream before, that I had to save a bunch of civilians from a mafioso style attack coming in from the streets into some kind of scientific/technical building with grand staircases and boiler rooms and silos. I was supposed to take them to the furthest point away from the gunfire, some dark room with a heavy steel door, and just as the bad guys open it up, backup arrives and the cops save the day.
It was supposed to be the same dream, but this time before I can take the civilians to the dark room to hide, the bad guy finds us early and corrals everyone into a large auditorium. I'm trying to negotiate that they let the hostages go. I can't fight because I'm outnumbered, and I don't want innocents caught in the crossfire. The second in command henchman is using some kind of high tech scanner to figure out where the ladychief of police is, whether she's gotten into the building yet. The scanner pings, she's nearby. Very nearby. In front of us. She's been under a cloaking device masquerading as the head of the mafia. He smiles and it's not his smile, it's the smile of righteous victory. The illusion is revealed and all the cops under her watch drop their cloaks as well, taking on the bad guys. They are in disarray and shock, can't cohesively fight back against us. I'm fighting too. I chase. I web-sling. I capture. Whipping through yellow-gold corridors and balconies, backwards on the path I took to hide the civilians. I'm a masked superhero. I'm Spider-girl. I keep fighting long into the night and quietly slip away when I know the cops have things under control. I swing on webs to a hotel room where my husband is staying. It's the middle of the night and he's been up worried where I am. I have to shower and sleep and get up in 5 hours for my regular day job. I take the mask off and realize that someone has followed me, now my family is in danger...
I'm walking next to what once was a field. Now it's being excavated for land development. An office building, a condo, whatever. I keep walking. Forests. Thin trees that offer a multitude of paths to weave through. I keep walking. A beach, a lake. A boardwalk with quaint jewelry and art shops. I know exactly where to go if I want to find the most beautiful turquoise necklace. I've had this dream before. I've always had this dream before.
Jul 7, 2016
Once it was summer, then it turned into winter, a sort of nuclear winter, as war erupted across the earth thanks to some kind of supernatural threat that had only been alluded to in an indie viral podcast. I remember embers, tanks, creeping through ashy burnt buildings. Then I was on the moon, on a research facility, and they had turned James Franco into a lethal lizard-monster determined to wipe out humanity.
Not everything is so fantastical. I've been dreaming about being downtown a lot lately. It's not Toronto, never quite Toronto, more like Toronto of the future. The shops are bigger, the traffic is busier, the subways are more complicated (more like The Tube), the PATH is even grander than before. But there's still endless construction that drives us all nuts, and the street meat tastes just as delicious.
Reality affects my dreams. Right after Pride weekend, I dreamed that my straight BFF had decided to date a girl instead. I was judgey, not for the obvious reason one would suspect, but because this other girl was an interloper to our circle and quite frankly not good enough for my BFF.
I still dream about going back to school, but after so many years and due to unflappable logic, my brain has realized that I can't seriously buy into being in high school when I am 35+ years old. So I've started dreaming that I am a teacher at the school, or a teacher's aide. I'm wandering halls keeping the peace, or I'm helping the school band, or I'm coaching the kids in the school play. Sometimes I go back to university, which is a lot more reasonable, except for the part that in reality I wouldn't physically go to the school, not when we've got online classes and continuing ed.
Sometimes it's just fragments of scenes. I'm getting dressed for a party, shoved into a tiny little stall. I'm trawling through white wedding gowns, hoping no one notices my nostalgia. I'm trying to navigate of maze of escalators in a building that's on fire.
It's harder for me to remember my dreams as I get older, they fade away faster, the details aren't as bold and bright when I wake up. But just trying helps, being aware helps. Here's to hoping there's more compelling tales to come.
Jun 15, 2016
In some ways, this child bullied me, replete with physical attacks, stealing my stuff, and generally a disrespectful attitude. But she was just a child, my friend’s little sister, and I was older than her, so calling it bullying doesn’t feel entirely accurate because there was still a power differential between us. She picked on me because she saw that I wouldn’t retaliate. I didn’t retaliate because you can’t roundhouse kick a nine year old in the face. But mostly, I didn’t retaliate because she didn’t really have any power over me. Her actions were cruel, but she was more like an awful little sister than a bully.
All that changed about 3 months after being subjected to her tiny tyrannical nonsense. It was the end of the school day, we were all lined up in our respective bus lines waiting to go home. I was talking to the oldest sister when the youngest sister came up to me and started her usual routine, giving me glares, kicking my schoolbag. At one point she ran at me and shoved me out of the line, causing me to nearly tumble to the pavement. She’d done this before, but for the first time she’d made the mistake of doing it right in front of a teacher. The teacher (who knew me for the quiet, mild-mannered A+ student I was) immediately started yelling at the youngest sister, but before she could carry on for too long I got back in line and said “no no, it’s alright, she’s my friend.”
The moment I said those words... I can still remember the look on that kid’s face. It was shock and shame and realization all at the same time. The teacher didn’t exactly stop, but eased her tone to something less angry. But regardless, the lesson had been learned. I could see exactly on her face what that little girl was thinking, I’ve been relentlessly mean to her and she’s saving me from being punished... I have done her wrong.
From that day forward, I had nothing but that child’s cheer and kindness, she was all smiles and boisterous sweetness whenever she saw me. And I remember thinking, this is why niceness matters, this is why you don’t fight fire with fire.
It’s only recently that I remembered this incident (it happened 20 years ago after all) and realized that it’s been a huge factor in shaping my personality. When I eventually went to high school later I employed the same tactic against legitimate bullies with... less effectiveness. But I employed it all the same. You don’t fight fire with fire. And sure, none of my high school bullies ever had a moment of awareness like that little girl did, where they realized that I deserved better from them. But they did mature, gradually, out of their juvenile predilections. It wasn’t that they realized I deserved better, it’s that they realized everyone deserves better.
There's been a spike of hate and anger in the world lately, between the rise of Trump and the Orlando shooting and all the fallout in between. We can all agree that there's too much negativity and hate in the world, and not enough love and kindness. I remember Jack Layton's final message about hope, I remember all the truth that the Dalai Lama speaks upon, I remember teaching a kid about kindness, and I hope that I can show the world we can do better...
Dec 22, 2015
My father knows his children well. In 1997 when the Star Wars Special Edition was being released in theatres, he took his three kids to see A New Hope, with the promise that we would love them. I was 16, my little sister was 9. My father was right. We were hooked. But the movies weren’t enough. I needed more.
I started reading the novels of the Extended Universe, the EU. I read the campy wrongness of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, I read about the powerful Nightsisters, the courtship of Princess Leia, the rise of Tarkin, the complex awesomeness of Mara Jade, and Luke’s Jedi Academy. I read about the new generation: Jacen and Jaina and Kyp Duron and Tenel Ka. I devoured the novels revolving around the Yuuzahn Vong. The internet happened and I discovered fanfic. One of my close friends in high school was my Star Wars BFF and we talked about the fic we were writing. My Star Wars BFF also chased me around her house when I accidently blurted out that Chewbacca had died in the latest book.
By the time I got to university, I didn’t have time to read Star Wars novels anymore. I only heard second hand about Jacen’s fall, about Ben Skywalker, about Mara’s murder.
And then Lucasfilms got sold.
30 years later. 30 years after ROTJ. In the EU, this was the point where the Galactic Republic finally defeated the Yuuzahn Vong. Han and Leia lost their youngest son. Luke had trained hundreds of Jedi apprentices. Jacen and Jaina transitioned to adulthood. I can’t imagine skipping the twenty-five to thirty books I had read beforehand and jumping directly into The Unifying Force novel. But here’s where we are, and from here the story picks up…
Part 2 – The Force Awakens, A Jacen Vs. Jaina Rematch
I haven’t read any of the new tie-in comics or novels yet. I’m fairly certain everything will pale in comparison to the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, which was emotionally damaging and heart-breakingly beautiful. All I have is the movie I have seen.
I love this movie, I really do. I couldn’t sleep for two hours after I’d seen it (the movie finished at 2am) because I couldn’t stop thinking about the universe that had lain out before me. Same but different. Like coming home two decades later and seeing it with grownup eyes.
The heart of this movie is unquestioningly Rey. Daisy Ridley carried the movie with the force of her acting. I can’t even explain how looking at Rey’s face on-screen made me feel… like I was about to vomit with excitement perhaps? That moment when she resists Kylo Ren’s mind-reading and mind-reads back at him… if anyone has watched the Avatar cartoon, they’ll understand why it reminded me of Aang and Ozai metaphysically battling for bending supremacy.
John Boyega’s Finn was a stroke of brilliance. That man is amazing. In the history of Star Wars, the evil grunts are always evil, always disposable. We know nothing of their exploits and feelings. But the reticent Stormtrooper, that’s a new angle. It humanizes individual enemies instead of painting them with broad strokes. Finn was the perfect foil to Rey. I know he has a smaller role in the next movie and that makes me sad.
There are no words for how adorable BB-8 is. I swear to god I will crochet one for myself and pet it every day. Its dejection when Finn says Poe is gone, its confusion at whether to believe Finn and tell Rey about the resistance base, its attempts to stay in one piece on the Falcon, how it tries to wake up R2. And at the end, BB and R2 and 3PO talking together like the cutest little droid family ever, oh my gosh.
From what I saw of Poe I liked. Hotshot pilots are always welcome, the younger the better. The instant bond between him and Finn was fantastic and their reunion at the base was perfect, as well as his reunion with BB.
I screamed “whaaaaaat” when Rey turned towards the garbage spaceship that was the Falcon. I laughed through Han’s typical tactic of trying to talk his way out of owing someone money (you’d think people would give an old war hero a break, damn). The strained reunion of Han and Leia broke my heart. Sorry to go all #Force4Ham right now but “have pity, they are working through the unimaginable.” And then the final tender caress when Han knows it’s over, Leia back at the command centre feeling his presence fade through the Force, the broken & defeated look on her face when Rey finally arrives, because only another Force user could truly feel her pain and offer compassion. Chewbacca with his head in his hands, deep in mourning.
(Aside Number 1: son of Han Solo my ass, let’s not play games, call him exactly what he is… the son of Leia Skywalker Organa)
I could have done without the heavy-handed Nazi flavour of the First Order but otherwise I loved the direction they were taken. Love the Flametroopers, loved Captain Phasma (wish there had been more of her), loved that Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters were still around. Snoke is the biggest mystery to me right now, I am salivating to see who he actually is and how he turned Ben Solo into Kylo Ren.
If anything, the ending was my least favourite part of the movie. It was too subdued, not celebratory enough, but I understood why it was done the way it was. I am so excited for Luke’s return, for more Jedi and Force mythos, for Jedi Temple exposition, and an extended training sequence between Luke and Rey.
(Aside Number 2: why do I suspect that it was Snoke leaving Rey on Jakku?)
I also look forward to hearing why Ben Solo went to the dark side. In the EU, Han and Leia’s children didn’t have the luxury of their parents’ attention, and were instead cared for by nannies and the galaxy’s deadliest bodyguards. But they didn’t bear any ill will towards Han or Leia because of their upbringing, and when they were pre-teens they happily went to Luke’s Jedi Academy. Danger and the dark side were always there, but those kids loved their parents more than anything. The Solo family was the bedrock of the EU. That’s clearly not the path taken here, and it will be interesting to see why it was not to be.
Part 3 – The Light and the Dark; The Force Awakens Soundtrack
The music of Star Wars is one of my great loves. John Williams is a fantastic movie soundtrack composer and to me, Star Wars is his best work. His soundtrack for The Force Awakens is good, but only good. To be quite frank, he hasn’t made a great Star Wars soundtrack since The Phantom Menace. Across the Stars was a great track but I didn’t even like anything from Revenge of The Sith.
But I digress. This soundtrack has one shining track of brilliance, and that is Rey’s Theme. It manages to be quiet and poignant while signifying something epic and transformative underneath. There are hidden depths lurking beneath those lilting bells and violins, a promise of a difficult but magnificent future. In her track, we hear promise and hope. This isn’t just a fantastic track, it’s magical and perfect.
The other standout track is Han and Leia, due to its generous callback leitmotif, but this time we hear a tentativeness, we hear the estrangement, the regret and lost years (Hamilton: “They are working through the unimaaaaginable”). I can feel my heart being squeezed to shatter, thinking about what they must have endured, apart, after their son became an agent of evil. And yet, they remain strong to their particular causes. They’re strong people. But it makes you wonder if family was ever something they could really do together. I’m reminded of how I used to write Bones fanfiction about how Brennan and Booth were terrible for each other, that any relationship they embarked on would be doomed to failure.
I particularly like Snoke’s track too, due to its blinding creepiness. I’m reminded of the scene between Palpatine and Anakin in ROTS, during the opera when the senator tells the young Jedi about Darth Plagueis. Ominous chanting, impending doom. But this track… this track. It feels… small. It was recorded in a small room, with two few voices…
This brings me to my main criticism and it’s not a criticism I thought I would endorse. John Williams has always recorded his Star Wars soundtracks using the London Symphony Orchestra. This time, he recorded in Los Angeles at the behest of J.J. Abrahams. You can sadly hear the difference. Play the opening theme from The Force Awakens then play the opening theme from The Phantom Menace and it becomes very clear. There’s a certain grandiose reverberation that has been lost in this most recent soundtrack. I sorely hope they allow J.Will to conduct with LSO again for episode 8.
Part 4 – Final Thoughts, a Legacy Unfolds
When I first heard that Disney had optioned more Star Wars movies, I was cranky as hell. Once you’re a certain age and your favourite movies issue closure, you don’t really want things to change. But Disney has a marketing department that is vast and unrelenting, like the Empire itself. Star Wars wasn’t even my One True Love growing up, that coveted spot will always belong to the X-Files. When the last X-Files movie came out, I didn’t even think about seeing it. I had my closure already, I was content to let that can of worms lie dormant. It was a movie marketed nowhere near as aggressively as Star Wars.
Disney’s ceaseless promotion of the Star Wars brand was quite effective in stirring up my enthusiasm. Clearly, they know what they’re doing, inciting excitement in adults and children alike. I don’t know if I’ll keep watching new Star Wars movies into my older years but knowing me I probably will. I hope I will. I’m not confident in the direction the brand will go and I would have been fine with no more movies, but here we are. And it’s all still magical.
Apr 13, 2015
Since 2015 began I've been parktakng in a fairly regular exercise routine. I go over to my future SIL's house after work (3 times a week), she feeds me dinner, then we do an hour or so of pilates, Brazilian butt-lift, cardio, or good old fashioned bicep curls. The only times I've ever been able to keep up an exercise routine was when another person was expecting my participation. And when the other person was at least less lazy than me. ;) Anyways, I've been on this routine, nothing too strenuous but 1 hour of moderate exercise is much better than 0 hours of any kind of exercise.
As of a few weeks ago, I'm actually starting to see results in my body. Not only can I handle more physical activity than when I started, but I've noticed my calves are more defined, my butt is nicely rounded, and I can just barely start to see my abs appearing. I haven't lost any weight; in fact I've gained quite a bit since Christmas 2014, but I'm guessing it's mostly muscle. Nevertheless, seeing my body change is great positive reinforcement. It's encouraging me to do my own research into what fitness practices are the best for me, and how to maintain the good habit I've got going.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to do any research about exercise without seeing a lot of advice about diet. And lord have mercy, that there is a complicated subject for me. Food is complicated. My relationship with food is complicated. And money is to blame.
When I first started working out, I was going in with the mentality: "If I exercise and burn calories, that will give me the freedom to cram all kinds of bad foods down my gullet!" But diet isn't just about calories. No matter how much cardio I do, that doesn't erase all the sodium I've consumed. I don't want cholesterol clogging my arteries or weak bones from lack of calcium. Any foundation I lay in my 30s will have a big pay-off when I'm in my 40s. So... I bit the bullet and re-downloaded the old food diary app I'd had back in 2012, ready to improve my health not just with physical activity but with watching what I ate as well.
When I last used the app in 2012, I was 10 pounds lighter and struggling to maintain my weight. I remember it would be like 9:30pm and I'd be scratching my head in the kitchen, wondering what I could eat last minute to reach my daily caloric intake. Now, I'm older and metabolically slower. And in the last 3 years I've trained myself (ironically) to cram more food into my mouth.
Growing up, I never had much of an appetite. Eating was a chore I got little pleasure from. As I hit my late 20s and rejected culinary austerity, delicious things were much more... delicious. It's almost as if my brain is somehow wired differently now. It's possible that due to living on my own for almost 10 years now, I either have a better appreciation for deliciousness... or I've been denying myself in my lazy, single bachelorette-dom and crave everything I can't have.
As much as I've lacked rigor when it comes to exercise and diet, such rigor always came easily to me in matters of money. To be honest, I do well with frugality. I feel a smug sense of satisfaction every time I walk away from a nice dress or cute shoes or quality makeup or takeout Chinese food. And there's the issue when it comes to food: if the food is free, the shackles of my restraint are released and I fill myself up like I never would in my own house or in a restaurant. Restraint is for your pocketbook, not your stomach. Spend like a miser, eat like a king (but not on your own dime).
Of course, I can’t ignore the fact that I am too damn lazy to care for cooking. Everyone has something they don’t care to invest time in, whether it’s cleaning the bathroom or money management or decorating their house. Cooking is my thing I’d love to outsource, of all the chores it’s the one that causes me the most apathy in me. I will be one of those secretly grudging and resentful cooks for the rest of my life, but unlike my mother my food won’t taste nearly as good!
Apr 6, 2015
"Combine ingredients in stand mixer-" NOPE.
"On low setting in your food processor-" NOPE.
"Add 1/2 bunch of fresh parsley leaves-" Like I have bunches of fresh parsley leaves just hanging around waiting to be used!
When you're living on your own, ensuring your fresh food does not go bad before you've consumed it all is a herculean task. Standard portions are just not made for single people.
My fridge is empty save for some eggs and orange juice, but my pantry and freezer are always fully stocked. So help a sister out and gimme recipes with more staples and convenience. None of this "1/3 of a cabbage" bullshit.
It sounds funny to say it, but it's only recently that I've developed an appreciation for food. Let me explain.
At some point in my mid-twenties I decided I wanted to be even healthier than I already was. The news was all a-buzz with the foods that were slowly killing us all. I cut out all kinds of things from my diet: fast food, pop, chips, and canned/frozen food. No more running to Burger King or grabbing a can of Chunky Soup for lunch. I was going to cook fresh, healthy food like they showed on the Food Network. I was going to eat Real Food(TM), which technically included stuff like cake and pie and vodka smoothies, so I didn't even feel deprived!
Bless my young foolish heart, for I knew not what I had wrought.
By cutting those things out of my diet, I didn't actually switch to consuming healthy food because here's the kicker: I hate cooking and I hate being stuck in the kitchen. When a delicious meal didn't miraculously materialize in my kitchen after I came home from work, I just... didn't eat. I'd maybe munch on some carrots but to make a MEAL? Hnnngggg no. Too much effort. What was the point? I wouldn't like what I made anyway. Everything I cooked was (and mostly still is) a disappointment to my taste buds.
But fast forward a couple years of this lifestyle and I began to notice I had lost a bit of weight. This was NOT a good thing, as I naturally skewed to the low end of the BMI scale to begin with. For my own sanity and self-preservation, I decided not to beat myself up for choosing convenience over healthy.
I don't know what happened to my brain over those two years of culinary austerity but my first time back to McNuggets and New York Fries poutine felt like... a revelation. For the first time in my life, food really and truly was setting off the pleasure centre of my brain. It had been rewired after such a long hiatus from glorious fat and sugar.
I still don't eat fast food or pop very much, but now I let myself if I have to and don't beat myself up over it. Who am I to argue with my brilliant brain telling me maybe, just maybe, I deserve food that makes me happy.
At this very moment, there's a platter of cupcakes hanging out on my counter. I ran out of containers to store them all in; like I said before, my kitchen is not strong on size or storage.
While my friends master the art of meal making through beef bourguignon and scratch-made vegan burgers, I have settled comfortably in the realm of Cupcake Realness. It's my go-to culinary tactic that burnishes me with the illusion of domestic godliness. I make them from scratch too, and it's an unholy pain in the ass, but it's the only area of food where my curiousity and creativity are piqued. I still want to try making a filled cupcake, either through piping or baking a little Lindor ball in the centre of the cupcake. I want make more cupcakes using pop for the wet ingredients (seriously, it's a thing... a sugary and delicious thing). I want to practice my icing techniques, which are passable at best.
The thing with cupcakes is that I'm never making them for all for myself, I couldn't eat them all if I tried. I got into cupcakes through a cupcake baking competition at work on St. Patrick's Day. I baked cupcakes for coworkers, for family, for my dude. I sometimes bake cakes to share with them as well.
When it's meant to be shared, when the food is an expression of my caring and competence, I'm all about creativity and effort. Interesting, that I don't do the same for my daily personal meals.
When I was a kid, meal time was fraught. My parents served me too much food and I didn't have the capacity to eat it all. So I sat at the dinner table looking everywhere but my bowl. Beyond a few bites, food held no interest to me.
It's funny how little you appreciate your mother's cooking until you leave home.
(As an aside, if I ever have a child who's anything like me I've already formulated a tactic to manage such behaviour. I let my child eat however much they want, they get to control their portion size. But then NO SNACKING an hour later when they're hungry, they can just suck it up. It'll help them learn their capacity for eating! Except I don't think I'll actually have the heart to stick it to my kid like that.)
But between meals I would tell my family how much I disliked meal time. I told them I longed for that day in the distant future when we could be able to get all our mealtime nutrition in pill form. No hassle, no drama, just pop a pill and get on with your day.
Part of me feels cheated that such a pill never materialized. Another part of me recognizes that a pill could never do what a real meal does, unless bloating up the stomach was part of its functions.
As a kid, food was nutritive, mechanical, necessary. I ate because I was hungry. I didn't eat because I wasn't hungry. Nowadays I clarify with my friends: "I'm hungry... not stomach-hungry, mouth-hungry." I salivate for something particular, something to satisfy and delight my palate. Kid Smitha did not delight in anything food related.
If it were just an issue of cooking being a bore, I could find healthy shortcuts and solve my food hang-ups. But it's not just an issue of food. It's hunger too.
By the time I moved out on my own, it was clear that hunger was the enemy. Hunger was a hurdle to be overcome. Hunger was a needy toddler begging for my attention. If I just ignored it long enough, it would go away and I could continue doing the things I REALLY wanted to do, like study or code or read that amazing book.
Thankfully, just before I turned 30 I finally had enough. I was tired of torturing myself with hunger. I vowed to seed my life with so much food opportunity that I wouldn't ever have to be hungry again. It was okay to keep cookies in my drawer at work. It was okay to grocery shop for munchables and not just staples. I deserved food.
Now, if only I could overcome my stinginess about spending money on food.
With my imminent wedding looming, food and cooking is becoming a more timely topic. It doesn't escape me that in my particular case, I'm going to have a lot more responsibilities regarding food preparation than my fiancé. But I barely ever cook for anyone other than myself, how in the world is my meat-ambivalent self supposed to cook for my fairly carnivorous partner?
Then my mind rolls further down the line and thinks about kids, how feeding children is construed as a primarily female role. I fret and leap to the irrational conclusion: bad cook, bad wife, bad mother. How am I supposed to raise kids who are open and adventurous about their food when I can't prepare such things for them? I grew up with the blessing of a mostly vegetarian mother and a totally omnivorous father, who led me to such loves like brussel sprouts and beetroot.
I can't cook so many of the things that are beloved to me, an endeavour all that trickier because the food I (and my fiancé) love are rooted in ethnicity and culture. Meanwhile all I have in my recipe repertoire is mac & cheese casserole. How are my kids supposed to love Indian/Pakistani food when I don't have the patience or skill to cook that stuff for myself?
Sometimes I wonder if this is just some serious liberal guilt surfacing. I once read somewhere that liberals are puritanical about food the way conservatives are puritanical about sex. Do food right or there will be drastic consequences. Do organic and local and fair trade and home cooked and low fat and low sodium and bathed in the light of the autumn harvest moon while we're at it.
Jan 9, 2015
SeSa - AiAiAi
Serebro - Mi Mi Mi
Duke Dumont - Won't Look Back
Wankelmut & Emma Louise - My Head Is A Jungle (MK Remix)
Secondcity - I Wanna Feel
Route 94 ft. Jess Glynne - My Love
Taylor Swift - Blank Space
Akdong Musician (AKMU) - 200%
Hyuna - Red
Orange Caramel - Catallena
Red Velvet - Happiness
G-Dragon - Who You?
Block B - Her
AOA - Like A Cat
Senri Kawaguchi - Jinshin no Ran
Martin Garrix & MOTi - Virus (How About Now)
EDX - Make Me Feel Good
Beyonce - 7/11 & Ring Off
Donna Summer - I Feel Love
Hunger Games - The Hanging Tree
Stromae - Meltdown
Major Lazer ft. Ariana Grande - All My Love
The Chemical Brothers ft. Miguel - This Is Not A Game
Vance Joy - Riptide
Selena Gomez - The Heart Wants What It Wants
Gyptian - Stunta
PARTYNEXTDOOR ft. Drake - Recognize
Sirusho - PreGomesh
Keys N Krates - Dreamyness
Benny Benassi - Satisfaction (RL Grime Remix)
One day, I will have time to sit down and download all these tracks. ONE DAY...
Sep 1, 2014
I’ve been thinking about my mp3 collection and how much harder it becomes year after year to seek out interesting and engaging music, it’s much easier to just switch on the radio every morning and bounce along to whatever the airwaves deems popular and therefore worth replaying every 20 minutes. It’s similarly just as easy to walk through your front door, plop on the couch, and press a couple buttons on the remote control to get passably entertaining drivel. It’s the very reason I’ve decided to cancel cable; the thoughtlessness, the mindlessness, was just killing me on the inside.
I’ve been thinking a lot about passion, and where exactly it went. When you’re a teenager, everything is a freaking crisis or mind-blowingly exciting. Things are tempered a little in your twenties, but instead of hyper-reacting to every situation, you develop an appreciative but mature appetite for life. Then I hit my thirties and it’s like I can’t feel anything anymore. Okay, that's a little maudlin of me, it's not like I'm dead inside. But I don’t obsess over the new tune I heard, my heart isn’t captured by a scene on TV or a passage in a book. I don’t find myself consumed anymore, not the way I used to be when a song or a TV show or a book or any hobby really would swallow me up and only let me go when my brain demanded I finally go to sleep.
I miss being interested and curious about things, exploring something new, expressing creativity through writing or singing or even just plain old imagination and daydreams. My life nowadays is more concerned with maintaining boring day-to-day responsibilities to myself; do the dishes, track your bills, buy groceries, plan that wedding, finish the laundry, get a good night’s sleep. There's no impetus for excitement and wonder anymore.
May 8, 2014
The good news is that I have a whopping emergency fund for these exact situations, so lack of money isn’t an issue at all. It’s just that part of me wishes that money could have been used somewhere else. Like the wedding, or furniture, or a down payment on a house.
But in the end I have no one to blame but myself for incurring these costs. This isn’t fate striking me with bad luck. Whether we’re talking about teeth or transmission fluid, a little preventative maintenance goes a long way. I’ve definitely been lackadaisical about taking care of my health and car in the past. A co-worker actually bonked me on the head when I told her that instead of changing my engine oil every three months, I change it never.
Therefore, lesson learned. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Next on the list: try to find a good physiotherapist or deep tissue masseuse so that I don’t keep throwing out my back!
Apr 10, 2014
When I’m talking about the scare factor of creepiness, I’m talking about the sense of unease we get from things that are abnormal, off kilter, but in a seemingly understated/innocuous manner. It’s the sense of not knowing more, of only having a glimpse of the story. It’s finding a human-shaped burn mark on a wall. It’s the sound of a crying child when there is no child to be seen. It’s inanimate objects slowly following your movement through an empty room. Seemingly innocuous, and no harm done, but maybe... what if...
It’s the not knowing that creates creepiness.
But there’s actually a fine line between creepiness and wonderment. No one freaks out when Lucy finds the random lamppost in Narnia, that’s because the book is written with a sense of childlike curiosity. Tone and mood are huge influencers on whether something is plain odd or forebodingly odd.
The one thing that creeped me out as a child and that continues to creep me out to this day: the moon. I mean the full moon, especially when it’s low on the horizon and looks larger than usual. I have no idea why the low-hanging full moon creeps me out so much, it just does. SHUDDER!
Apr 1, 2014
- Fry tsp minced garlic and green onions in canola oil at medium heat, cook until garlic is golden
- Add one chopped tomato and 1 tsp chopped fresh basil, continue cooking until tomatoes break down
- Add one package sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
- Add 1 tsp dijon mustard
- Add 1 tsp veggie stock powder with 750 ml water
- Simmer on low heat until mushrooms are tender (8-10 minutes)
- Add 1 tsp cornstarch (mixed with tiny bit of cold water)
- Add al dente pasta (I used about 3 cups uncooked aka quite a lot)
- Toss with a sprinkle of dried oregano
- NOM WHILE HOT!
Flavourful as fuck with a lot less salt/sugar than bottled pasta sauce. I already love mushrooms as is, but I wish someone had told me earlier that fresh basil is basically HERBED MAGIC. :D
Mar 21, 2014
Then March rolled around and I got bit by the “you deserve it” bug. See, because I’m so frugal and save so much money, I know I’ve got extra disposable income. And the tighter I hold my own reigns, the more I want to buy the stuff on my ongoing Wish List. This month’s obsession: new perfume. But because I’m frugal by nature, I didn’t just stroll into Sephora and buy it. Nope, went to a local flea market, trawled the various perfumery stalls until I found the cheapest one, paid cash.
New perfume aside, there’s been other items on the Wish List. I set up an appointment for a Swedish massage, because I work in front of a computer all week long. But again, did it frugal style: Groupon deal! I bought a purse (the $22 one as opposed to the flashier $59 one). Both my watches were languishing with dead batteries, so I had to get those fixed. And I’ve been pretty social this month as well, dropping money on dinners out and tickets to various events.
Needless to say, I was sort of “spending scared” for most of the month. I’ve got the additional cost of paying property taxes for March through to May, so I wouldn’t have as much money as the previous months. But it looks like if I stay the course and only spend on necessities, I’ll be okay.
But because life never goes as planned, this weekend I’m going wedding dress shopping with my sister. Then the weekend after that I’m on a jeans shopping mission with my BFF. But knowing that money is tight will be great incentive for continuing to reign myself in.
Mar 17, 2014
For those not in the know, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” is a science documentary series being shown on Fox TV, produced by Seth McFarlane, hosted by the phenomenal Neil deGrasse Tyson, inspired by the original series from Carl Sagan. The interesting thing about the show is that it’s not trying to be ground breaking or revolutionary. Instead, NdT just points out the facts with the tenacity of an astrophysicist who’s had quite enough of America’s anti-science fundie creationist bullshit.
I saw the first episode during a rerun on Saturday; even though I had previously heard the episode incited controversy through its narrative of the church vs. free-thinker, I wasn’t prepared for how all-out the show actually went! They really painted religious figureheads as the enemies of progress, all the while emphasizing that science is not in competition with faith or god, but really an extension of it.
Last night’s second episode also wasn’t afraid to throw some punches, especially regarding evolution. NdT was basically like: “listen, evolution is a fact, deal with it”. More than anything, this show is a political statement, a measured response to disinformation and distrust. But even as NdT recalls the religious opposition to Darwin or alludes to a man-made ongoing mass extinction, he also shows how marvelous science can be. My favourite moments:
- Did you know that on Saturn’s moon Titan, there is a large water mass named the Kraken Sea? KRAKEN, seriously.
- NdT looking straight into the screen, subtly inviting children watching the show to be the individual who finally unravels the origin of life on earth.
Can’t wait for next week! Wish I could mainline it like House of Cards. ;)
Mar 8, 2014
Unfortunately, if I was looking to not get "sucked in" to something, perhaps I shouldn't have picked reading as an alternative option. Because give me a good book and it's the same story all over again, except this time I'm curled up on the couch when I realize it's an hour past my bedtime and there are still dishes in the sink and I haven't brushed my teeth or done the laundry or taken out the trash. *facepalm*
Need to find another another alternative, most likely some kind of crafting (crochet, scrapbooking, embroidery, etc.). Right after I finish this book of course.
Feb 1, 2014
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups cold cooked rice
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 cups chopped green beans
- 3 stalks spring onion, chopped
- 1 cup diced cooked ham
- salt and pepper to taste
- oil for frying (canola or vegetable)
- dash of sesame oil
- Heat a small skillet with a little bit of oil, then crack the eggs into the pan. Cook the eggs as though making scrambled eggs, removed from heat and set aside when the eggs have just set.
- In a larger skillet, heat some oil and add the garlic, cook until just browned.
- Add the green beans, cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the diced ham, cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Add the spring onion and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the rice, egg, oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly until the rice is evenly coated.
- Finish with a hint of sesame oil, mix evenly.