Weed the North

So pot is legal in Canada now. Yay? It feels like a foregone conclusion. Kind of like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn; they’ve been together for so long, if they ever got married, it would be anticlimactic (and about damn time). That’s pot in Canada.

A major peeve of mine is following behind someone who happens to be walking while smoking like a chimney, the human traffic equivalent of being stuck behind a car smoking black exhaust. Gross. I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell, so anything from a cigarette to B.O. is capable of causing a splitting headache. (Axe Body Spray is nasal assault and battery. Please stop.)  So my main gripe about smoking in general is that it literally stinks. It sticks to clothes and hair. It’s also kind of like fireworks – lit up for a brief moment of enjoyment and gone forever. It’s burning money, which to me is  the definition of absolute lunacy.

Anyway, I girded my mental loins as I exited the subway, expecting hordes of long-suppressed smokers toking up all over in joyous celebration, enveloping Toronto in a big, stinky mushroom cloud of weed smoke. Didn’t happen. There was a bud drop, and they went a bit nuts in the Bellwoods yesterday, but at least they weren’t spilling out into the streets smoking like there’s no tomorrow. Again, yay?

In Ontario, storefronts have yet to launch and legal weed is only available for sale online but Canada Post is threatening to strike, etc, so people may not yet have gotten the weed they ordered.  I don’t smoke, but I know people who do and appreciate the ones who make an effort to ensure their smoking doesn’t affect other people. It’s too soon to tell how this is gonna go, it’s only been a day. Here’s hoping Canadians live up to their rep of being polite, well-mannered and considerate. If not, it’s time to consider investing in face masks.

 

Summertime (and the eatin’ is easy)

Summertime (and the eatin’ is easy)

And I was thinking this summer was going to be a bore. It’s been so hot, and the humidity is out the wazoo. I was spending quite a few weekends in because I’m a vampire and allergic to all that sun and UV rays. I’ve also had my share of humidity growing up in the tropics. As someone who’s already aging disgracefully, I don’t need any more help from this weather.

Just goes to show one must never say never, especially not when one’s favourite tennis player is in town for the Rogers Cup, aka The Canadian Open – the only ATP Masters 1000 event held in the great white north, one of the go-to warmup events for players to prepare for the hardcourt season which culminates in the US Open, and I’m pretty sure if you don’t follow tennis, none of that jumble of words will mean anything to you. So before you decide to just click somewhere else, here you go:

That was two weekends ago. In a heat wave. I braved a heatwave for that. If it weren’t for going to see Rafael Nadal practice on the hardcourts of the Aviva Centre for free, I would never get any sun. And now I’m kicking myself for not getting tickets to see the finals, because he’s just made his way into the finals of the Rogers Cup for the first time in a while. He’s also going to face the hottest thing on the #NextGen circuit right now, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas who is having the run of his life!

Speaking of mouthwatering and speaking of Greece, I’ve been to Taste of the Danforth, practically a Toronto summertime institution, a few times now and have no idea how I missed out on the awesomeness that is Foodland’s fruit stand. Just juicy, beautiful fresh fruit on a stick begging to be eaten – and at a price that can’t be beat. Large wedges of watermelon and mangoes to be had (extra sriracha $1), but my favourite by far were the strawberry skewers, which get a lovely amount of chocolate drizzled on them. It is HEAVEN. Five fresh, plump, juicy strawberries with chocolate on them for $2? YES PLEASE, YES, NOW, HURRY! All caps and exclamation points because that’s how much I love them. I used to go for the lokoumades, but now I will go for strawberry skewers, hands down, the end, exit stage right.

PS:

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Trust Fall

Trust Fall

Every day is an exercise in trust.

That water flows out the pipes.

That the power remains on.

That the cable holding up the elevator doesn’t fray.

That the train will be on time.

That no one pushes you off the subway platform.

That the person on the escalator two steps up won’t fart in your face.

That the bus arrives.

That the guy at Tim’s won’t spit in your coffee.

That cars honour the pedestrian lane and the walk sign, and resist plowing into you as you mince across the street checking Twitter, oblivious to everyone and everything.

That you’ll get to go home, go to sleep and wake up the next day, ready to do the whole thing over again.

Parts Unknown

Sometimes I avoid news. Not that I can avoid it entirely, but the general predilection of today’s news to be inflammatory – because that’s what sells – is exhausting. It’s issues, issues and even more issues, some of it real, a lot of it manufactured by people who seem to have made it their business to go through life with a gigantic chip on their shoulder.  Still, this past week or so, with that kiss (why does he make it so hard?) and she-who-shall-not-be-named invoking the memory of her dead parents yet again, it’s easy to see why people contemplate offing themselves.

Melodrama aside, suicide is no laughing matter. And it’s trending again. A couple of months ago, it was Avicii. Just recently, Kate Spade – she of the eponymous line of bags, shoes and accessories – and now Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef, globe-trotter and highly esteemed food writer. All were highly successful and wealthy, all were living the kind of accomplished, jet-set lives the rest of us can only dream of having. None of it was enough to make them want to go on living. You know it’s serious when you wake up one day at the top of your game, and decide you can’t be bothered to keep breathing. Is it really that empty up there in the atmosphere of the one percent? Is it really that bleak? If having all that isn’t enough, then what is?

Although the stigma of depression is slowly being chipped away, no one ever talks about it very much. It’s a mysterious illness, easily dismissed, something only understood by those going through it and those who’ve gone through it and made it to the other side. My mother used to tell me stories of what it was like for her, after she had my brothers. She said it was a very scary, very weird headspace to be in. I was a child back then, so the only things that stood out were these strange roots suspended in jars of orange liquid, infusions of ginger root and tree bark she used to take, and the word bughat, something that, to a nine year old, was both riddle and an answer, all at once.

It takes a lot of strength to get through something like that, a lot of fortitude and a very strong will. My mother was one of the fortunate ones, able to emerge from the darkness of post-partum depression. I do remember one thing she always made an effort to do whenever she felt particularly low: she talked about it. Doing so helped in many ways – it helped me understand a little bit of what she was going through, even if I was only nine. And I think it helped her to know that we may not have fully understood, but that we were going to be there for her all the same. Talking about it helps. It’s particularly hard on us Filipinos, who for the most part, either think psychotherapy and the drugs that can come with it are for the weak, or believe in it but can’t afford it. Talking is cheap and effective, and there’s no shame in struggling. Depression doesn’t discriminate.

If we’re to go by the examples of successful people who’ve killed themselves (Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Robin Williams, Alexander McQueen, etc), all the money, success, fame and glamour in the world aren’t enough.  But does that  make life not worth living? I refuse to believe that. I still want to know  what it’s like to be so rich, I can use dollar bills to wipe my behind.  I’m not convinced that life isn’t worth it, just yet. I think breathing is sweet, and I still want to win the lottery. If it’s all downhill from there, then that’s as it may be, but at least I’d have gotten to try being on top of the world.

Excuses and Alibis

Due to an ever so unique combination of exhaustion and distraction, I’ve been struggling to write regularly of late. I’m mentally and emotionally drained by the time I’m done with work, so when I get home the last thing I want to do is think. Or talk. Or even do. Because work is nuts. My brain has to go in so many different directions in any given time and sometimes the volume of what I’m processing bogs me down and takes its toll. My thoughts mostly resemble scared mice scurrying away whenever I try to cobble them together, which is probably my cue to go to my family doctor and ask for drugs. Pharmaceuticals: today’s answer to everything!

But, no. Like most everything else, I will bend over and take this current exhausting adult phase like a champ, even if work sometimes feels like a fat dick shoved up my ass with no lube, because this too shall pass. It may pass the way a particularly jagged calcium deposit shreds your  urethra on its way to sweet freedom, but it will pass. Please pass. Please?

So I’ve been making it a lousy excuse not to write because by the time I get home I don’t feel like writing anymore. I’ve been reading or watching Netflix while stuffing my face. I really should try to cut down the stuffing of the face, but I don’t seem to have any self control these days.

Still, I’ve come out of temporary hiding to say I’ve had it with this whole royal wedding. If I never see another post about Meghan Markle again, it won’t come soon enough. With my luck, and because people need to sell newspapers, it will be full court press coverage  of Harry and Meghan for the next few months, at least, while I twiddle my thumbs and wait for the inevitable stink piece on how the Duchess of Cambridge is jealous about all the attention being showered on the Duchess of Sussex.

Am I the only one who doesn’t give a shit about this? My feeds have been crammed with the dress, and the kiss, the guests (Amal Clooney in mustard yellow, making up for the ridiculous getup she wore to the Met Gala) and all the ooh-ing and they’re-oh-so-in-love-ing.  Have we forgotten the mess that was the Charles/Diana union? That started out just as romantic as this one did, with all the cute smiles and the shy glances and the photo-ops and gown reveals. For all the magic of that wedding day, they ended up at each other’s throats. Two people from different backgrounds getting married and trying to fashion a life together? It’s work. So I’m here watching them go by, giving them five years at most before it all goes to shit because I’m a bitter, overworked peon and I’m sick of having someone’s extravagant romance being shoved in my face. Also when the mention of a British-American wedding comes up, my brain goes straight to Four Weddings and a Funeral, the gold standard for English romance (no, it isn’t but I love it anyway).  Also, because this is me at weddings:

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Who am I kidding, this is everyone at weddings. Everyone I know, anyway.

Try watching Four Weddings and a Funeral on mute some time. It’s just as hilarious.

 

Sharing is caring, and I apparently don’t

Sharing is caring, and I apparently don’t

For anyone who cares to  follow, the perfectly curated lives of a lot of my friends are laid out online like a visual feast. On Instagram, some have over two thousand posts and are capable of sharing ten to twenty carefully selected shots of whatever adventure they’re having on any given day regardless if it’s the same adventure over and over. Adventures in parenting. Adventures in Taiwan. Adventures in bad haircuts, random non sequiturs, shared cooking videos, memes, trailers, jokes, and Throwback Thursdays.

I used to be a lot more active when Facebook was new.  A cursory sweep of my social media activities has made me realize I’m failing at life. Online life, that is. My Instagram has less than three hundred posts. My account is private, and whoever follows me gets the privilege of an exclusive peek at two different pictures of castaway shoes, a random cannoli, some guy at the summer barbecue fest and a little bit of me sprinkled here and there. My posts are fragmented and infrequent and I have never featured a single “story.” To the casual observer, it would seem like I really can’t be bothered to share.

If you’ve visited this blog every so often, it’s a very strange thing for me to say.

There is a dichotomy to my online self. In an online environment where I actually have a web of friends who will see pieces of my life without the need to ask for it, I barely share anything. And yet, I’m an open book to whomever cares to come here, to read a blog, which, unlike my IG, is full of verbal diarrhea and is actually open to whoever cares to find it. I do most of my sharing here, because I figure if someone wants to find about me, I’m around.

I don’t take online personality tests. I don’t pipe up about loving Jesus. I don’t share what I’d look like if I’m male, what my eye colour says about me, or what my mother’s maiden name is (lord knows my mother has no qualms about it) because here’s the thing. No one cares. And anyway, it has nothing to do with who I really am.

No one cares what your personality is based on your favourite salad, or what Disney princess you are based on a few questions off of a personality test. No one cares. The person clicking “Like” is on auto-pilot. It’s like replying with “LOL” to a text message, but not actually laughing out loud. It’s polite, it shows positivity, but ultimately? It’s an empty gesture. I like to save ‘likes’ for something actually worth liking. Like a particularly funny quote. Or a particularly unique snapshot. Something honest, and frank, and real.

No one cares. And also, engaging in these stupid little tests is like signing up to get phished. I feel like this cannot be stressed enough. People should not be giving out sensitive information, like birthdays or maiden names. That fun little game where you come up with your catchphrase by pairing the month you were born with the date of your birth? Phishing. That cute little test that says they’ll tell you what your mother’s maiden name means in a foreign language? Phishing. Think about it. People are lazy. Trying to remember a password is annoying, so we birthdays, or a combination of numbers that mean something to us, catchphrase, favourite vacation, movie, quote, something.

Cambridge Analytica aside, I’m not quitting Facebook. Not that I’m a diehard fan, but I’ve always said trainwrecks are interesting. Somehow, without knowing it, I seem to have retreated. I’m not hiding, I just don’t feel the need to be the kid in class who’s constantly raising her hand. Now, I’m just the kid in class watching the other kids make complete prats of themselves, wondering  if their inner Disney Princess is really reflective of what they’re like on the inside.

Image borrowed from Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator

Bring me the Chianti

Bring me the Chianti

This triggered me today.

I don’t usually like using the word ‘triggered’ because it brings to mind the ridiculous slang that’s considered hip these days, like bae. Or shookt. Woke. Ship. Cray. Having a tiny computer in our pocket 24/7 has  apparently given us all ADHD and no one has the time for syllables, or a proper vocabulary. Don’t get me started on the egregious abuse of the word iconic.

However ‘triggered’, in this particular situation, is an apt word for me to describe the way I’m feeling. Because #affected!

TL;DR: vegans organized a protest against Antler, a Toronto restaurant that boasts wild game as a big part of their menu; as they waved murder signs outside, the owner proceeded to (expertly, from the looks of it) butcher a leg of deer in plain sight.  Shock, horror and injured feelings ensue.

So, I was there for the comments, and ended up down a rabbit hole of commentary, which is par for the course when it comes to a topic as polarizing as vegans versus the world. Sometimes it seems like there’s a chapter somewhere in the militant vegan gospel that says if they won’t eat animals, woe to the rest of us who insist on doing so.

This is why I have a problem with militant anything. Militant vegans. Militant feminists. Militant racists. Militant religionists. Militant cyclists. They’re always free to believe what they believe in, but disagree with them and all of a sudden they’re the victims. It’s always their way or the highway, conveniently sidestepping the fact that having an opinion is a right that belongs to everyone. It leaves a sour, angry feeling in the pit of my stomach, which is how  I feel when it comes to people who claim to educate, but are actually intent on ramming their own beliefs down your throat.

At its core, my problem with militant anything is that it’s sanctimonious, it’s preachy, and it’s rude. If you’re okay with voicing your opinion that meat-eating is wrong, you should be okay with others who think otherwise and have the nerve to say so. I would like to think not all vegans have such a warped, blinkered worldview. There is a difference between education and straight out indoctrination.

So I am standing up and giving  Team Antler a slow clap for this masterful move. First of all, it’s his restaurant. If he wants to butcher a leg of deer in front of all and sundry, that’s his prerogative, the same way it was the protesters’ prerogative to gang up on a local business and wave meat-is-murder signs in front of paying customers. If he wants to have a menu that’s mostly ethically raised, locally sourced meat, that’s his choice. Don’t force a restaurant to add vegan friendly items to the menu just because you think animals have feelings and humans shouldn’t eat meat. The solution is simple: if you want vegan food, eat somewhere else. Why is that concept so hard to grasp? It’s Toronto, is there a dearth of choices? If there’s anything there’s a dearth of, it’s common sense. The word of the day is dearth. Scorched dearth. Dearth Vader. Dearth Becomes Her. Dearth, dearth, dearth.

Clearly, I’m raving and now need food. I think I’ll eat at Antler soon. I like meat, but you knew that already, didn’t you?