Sunday, January 31, 2016

31 Days: New Year's Goals

31 Days of Writing Prompts: Looking back at the first month of 2016, how are you doing with the goals you set for yourself?

i don't know if i actually made any concrete goals beyond half-jokingly scribbling a few things in a list in this blog post, but i suppose we could go over those:

floss more: i'm holding steady with this! when you don't have health insurance, that means you don't have dental coverage, which means you ought to take really, really good care of your teeth. so, i always make sure i brush well 2-3 times a day, but i definitely floss pretty much every night (except the couple nights a week i spend at my boyfriend's, because if he has floss, i can't find it and i'm too lazy to ask). i got big on flossing a few years back when i read about how mouth hygiene can play a huge part in your overall health, and let's be honest, it actually doesn't take a lot of time. everyone should do this. think about the bleeding-gums shame you'll save when you visit the dentist!

get passport renewed: (almost) done and dusted. i wasn't quite ready to go through with the gut-punch to my self-esteem that is the terrible, terrible passport photos, but whatever, i sucked it up and did it anyway. (the awful lighting really highlighted my greasy face and developing age lines, but at least i avoided a double-chin) after that, it's been as simple as printing off the forms, collecting my references, and now waiting on my next paycheque so i'll have the $150 in fees. then i'll have to brave the lineups at service canada to go drop it off, but it's right next to my gym, so it'll be an easy trip. it's a process, yeah, but having a valid passport will definitely come in handy at some point. i don't intend on staying in canada for the rest of my life.

i still do miss my first passport photo, though:

i will stab you.

get out of the house more (esp. to see friends): i go through this in fits and spurts, and i'm pretty sure it has something to do with my hormonal cycle, but i think i managed okay this month. since i work from home, it's entirely easy for me to be 100% antisocial and mostly just stay in the nice refuge of my own apartment (only emerging to go to sean's a few times a week), but my moods have been really off lately, and i finally realized it's because i haven't seen my friends in a while. like, well before christmas. i could put up plenty of excuses - too busy, holiday craziness, chicago - but truthfully, i knew i could make the time and that i should. friends are great! they help ground you, and they give you a sounding board, and they listen, and they know you and what you're like. anyway, i'm still failing a little bit on this - i'm busy, the weather sucks, moodiness, etc. etc. - but i did make an appearance at a friend's birthday party last week, so that was something.

adopt a cat: yeah, this ain't gonna happen in a month. i need a little more time to sort out expenses and such. but honest to christ, i saw this big gorgeous dark tabby flopping on the porch for its owner a couple weeks ago, and my heart fluttered. i react to cats the way some women react to babies. ergo, i need one of my own in 2016.

also, the import boy needs one too. it's like his life is lessened without a cat in it:

we nicknamed this neighbourhood friend "cuddlecat".

wash sheets and towels more often: it often takes a few mental reminders, but i have definitely started tossing in my pillowcases and face cloths when i do laundry every week (i've always worried that the dirtiness of those surfaces have a negative effect on my skin), but yeah, sheets? not so much. i am completely gross when it comes to washing my bedsheets and i do need to start doing this more often. because gross.

less junk food: this is an easy one to quash for me: if there isn't any crap in the house, i won't eat it. however, as is typically around the holidays, sweets and goodies just tend to kind of accumulate. it's even worse if you don't work in an office and can't pawn it off on your colleagues. so definitely, by january 1st i was already vowing to get rid of what i had and stop buying more (even if it was on sale after christmas). i faltered only once - buying a terry's dark chocolate orange for $2 - but i've managed to keep healthier habits and focus more on fresh produce, good fats, and protein. in the meantime, i'm finally finishing off what's left of my holiday stash, including these gummies (my favourite kind) that sean put in my stocking:

and this final bag of my imported chicago snacks, the chex mix that i'd saved for eating while watching the royal rumble:

i'm actually weirdly proud of myself for parcelling out goodies over the last month and a half. i used to vacuum up all the sweets in sight within a day or two, so being able to have this stuff in my possession and limit myself to only a couple pieces at a time is a huge thing for me. anyway, once that's all done with, i can get back to keeping my cupboards mostly free of junk (save for the occasional bag of cheddar rice chips or dark chocolate bar). though i did have pizza for dinner last night, so i don't fucking know.

more music: i used to be really in the habit of putting on indie 103.1 while i work or blog, but i'd eased off on it in 2015. for one, my laptop speakers blew out, and music sounded pretty crummy coming from the laptop's tinny speakers. for two, streaming online radio drains a lot of my internet usage, and i'm not in a great position to be paying extra on my bills. for three, i really fell out of the practice of writing with music on, and so i just found it distracting while i was trying to work. (it seems like i mostly rely on it when i work in a loud open-office environment, but not so much when i'm at home.) there's nothing much i can do about that third point, because doing my best work is important, but i've begun putting music on again while i blog in the mornings (but not for too long -- gotta save that internet usage) and i'm slowly getting back into it. after all, this is how i discover new music and remember old favourites, and if i don't have that in my life then i feel a bit out of the loop. indie 103.1 has been a constant in my life since 2006 and i do miss it when i don't listen.

take vitamin b12: done and done. i've been holding myself to two cups of coffee a day, so when i hit the afternoon slump, i take a vitamin b12 rather than drink another caffeinated beverage. i've read that b12 helps with energy and metabolism, plus the bottle says "helps produce red blood cells," which is a bonus when you're as iron-deficient as i am. (to that point, i really ought to have put "take iron pills" on my 2016 goals list, but i'll get around to it)

stop telling baristas my name is "kate": not super applicable because i rarely buy the fancy coffee-based beverages that require you to leave your name (i like plain coffee, it's cheaper and has a stronger caffeine punch). but i still do say my name is kate to salespeople who need it for changerooms etc., just because it's somehow easier than them asking me to spell my name out, disregarding the fact that i hate when people outside of my family and a few longtime friends call me kate/cait. maybe i need to take more of a stand on this with strangers. oh, well.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

31 Days: Dream Vacation

31 Days of Writing Prompts: Where would you go on your perfect dream vacation?

crossing over california en route to los angeles, october 2007.

here's the thing: i don't much care for vacation travelling. i never really have. if i have time off, i would like to be relaxed and comfortable at home, thank you. it's different if i'm travelling for/with a rock band - which i would like to do forever and ever, amen - but when it comes to the "dream vacation destination" question, i always draw a blank. if anything, i'm boring and only really want to go back to places i've been before. what can i say, i like what i know. (i also hate the idea of a vacation where you just lie on some tropical beach and do nothing -- i like getting out and adventuring and doing things)

that said, here are some places i would go if air travel wasn't a factor and i could miraculously teleport there or something:

japan. obviously number one on the list. i've been a japanophile since i was a teen, yet i've never been there, and i mostly just want to go to tashirojima - aka the cat island - and never return. but it would also be cool to go to tokyo, and kyoto, and osaka, and the shibuya and akihabara districts, and a lot more. my father went to japan a few years ago and loved it, and if it weren't for the insanely long plane ride (also $$$$$), i probably would have gone by now.

paris. another one my father speaks strongly about (he loves france and has been like 4-5 times or something) although both my boyfriend and my best friend aren't fans (the latter recommends smaller french towns that aren't overrun with tourists). i'd like to see paris for myself someday, preferably in the springtime, or at least visit nice or one of the other french towns. also: chamonix and mont blanc would be pretty cool, no pun intended, even though i don't ski.

berlin. i really love the idea of germany (i even took german in university) and this seems like one of those cool big-culture cities that a person should visit at least once in their life. no surprise here: my dad enjoyed berlin immensely and recommends it highly. also, i may have only barely passed german class but i still love that wonderfully weird language.

amsterdam. again, more for the nightlife experience and culture rather than the, er, recreational benefits. every photo i've ever seen of amsterdam makes it look absolutely gorgeous, and it would be cool to see it for myself at some point. (one of my friends actually did a "destination birthday trip" here with a group a couple years back, but i was too broke to go, sighhhh)

norway/denmark/sweden/any of the cute scandinavian countries. it's probably taboo that i'm lumping them all together like this, but as with the above, all the photos i've ever seen of norway, denmark, or sweden all make them look so gorgeous and picturesque. cold too, yes, but i like cold places, and i think i would like to see the fjords and all those cute houses at some point in my life.

iceland. hot springs? yes. fermented shark? not so much. still, iceland seems like one of those crazy other-planet types of places, and given how cheap a holiday destination it is, i'd like to go visit someday.

the maldives. i was once pretty intent on going to the maldives, until i learned that you have to take two planes to get there and it's pretty well isolated. but honestly, i just wanted to go so i could see the famous bioluminescent beach for myself. and then i probably would have stayed there forever, just to marvel at it, so maybe it's for the best.

russia. the dark horse on the list! russia may seem forbidding to some, but like germany, i like the idea of russia. the culture sounds interesting, and i don't mind the cold, and i want to see the cool buildings in saint petersburg. i want to see what the cities are like, and i want to drink some authentic 100-proof vodka. i'd probably have to go as part of a group, but man, would it ever be cool to explore russia solo (safely, of course).

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

31 Days: Biggest Guilty Pleasure

31 Days of Writing Prompts: What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

dudes, i don't know. i'm fairly sure i'm one of those people who "doesn't believe" in guilty pleasures, because if it's something you find pleasurable, you shouldn't feel guilty about it. also, categorizing anything as a guilty pleasure means that someone somewhere determined that certain things aren't good for us, therefore we should be made to feel guilty for enjoying them. which is kind of bullshit, right?

but okay, i'll play along -- here are some things i enjoy that conventional society says i shouldn't:
  • drinking half a bottle of wine in one sitting (amazingly, i've only drunk an entire bottle in one go a couple of times, and i felt lousy every time. i routinely make a single bottle of wine last three days)
  • spending quality time doing absolutely nothing instead of keeping myself busy
  • eating lots of fats (albeit healthy ones)
  • sentimental coming-of-age movies
  • supernatural and/or dystopian teen romance movies
  • stretching right out in bed to take it all over myself (my boyfriend would also add that i steal all of his duvet)
  • making baked goods just to eat the unbaked dough
  • skipping a gym day
  • watching trash tv shows on tlc
  • skipping a gym day to watch trash tv shows on tlc
  • occasionally eating dessert at lunch and dinner
  • enjoying the musical stylings of the band live
and lastly, always this:

(i mean, not that i've ever done heroin, but the sheer relief i feel from cancelling plans is probably my biggest guilty pleasure)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

31 Days: Favorite Winter Activity

31 Days of Writing Prompts: Favorite winter activity?

with all the crazy winter weather happening to our neighbours to the south, i figured now was a good time to answer this prompt. (it also reminded me of the time i was in washington for a couple weeks and ended up being delayed further because a monster snowstorm was hitting toronto and my flight got cancelled. i was sitting at the hotel bar and relaying this story to the bartender, who grinned and replied, "yeah, you're not getting out of here any time soon." not great news for an uneasy flier.)

anyway, my favourite winter activity is probably like, walking. really boring, i know, but hear me out on this:

1. my fear of heights acts up when i'm on ski hills. i'm not even joking. i've never been able to do anything like downhill skiing or snowboarding because i can't even go on the fucking t-bar lift without freaking out, and being up on steep hills gives me panic attacks and/or vertigo. if i remember right, we tried to do blue mountain or some other ski hill when i was younger, and i ended up spending the entire time drinking hot chocolate in the chalet. as one should. (cross-country skiing was a thing i did do back when i lived in the country, though. same with tobogganing, because i was indeed a kid once and not always a cranky old woman.)

2. i walk everywhere, all the time, regardless of season. true, i do try to hit that recommended goal of 10,000 steps per day, but more than that, going for a walk is me being in my chill zone. i get to plug in my ipod - never do i ever walk without music on - and just lose myself in the scenery, the destination, and the music. i've always tried to make time every single day to go for even a short walk, because not only do i love it, but i find that it helps clear my brain out and improve my thinking patterns (this is vital especially on a work day -- often i'll finish one assignment then go for a walk before starting the next, and back when i was in the 9-to-5, i rarely skipped a walk on my lunch hour). also, fresh air is lovely.

and you know what? winter is awesome. it is! the cold weather is bracing and wonderful and clear. so long as you keep an eye on the weather forecast, dress appropriately, and don't stay for too long outside when it's at hypothermia levels, it's fine. i always look for excuses to walk somewhere rather than take transit, and that definitely holds true in the wintertime as well (even more so, really, given that transit becomes overrun with people when winter strikes).

a related memory: i grew up out in the deep country, and with seven acres of farmland and very few neighbours, i spent a lot of time playing by myself. when i think about winter days as a kid, i think about endless stretches of time in the afternoons - probably that nebulous time between 3 and 4 p.m., when the sun's going down and it's just starting to get dark - with overcast skies overhead, the smell of our wood-burning fireplace and the pine trees, and a cold that i've basically become inured to, since i've already spent so many hours outside alone making snow forts or whatever. when i remember my childhood, i think about cold air, grey skies, and the kind of silence you only get far away from civilization. i may be a city girl to the core, but i grew up so far away from all this that it's almost strange to remember, now.