Archive

March 2014

Browsing

People with the perfect life

I’m waiting for the light to change. The man standing next to me – a David Beckham type, handsome with carefully contrived stubble – is close enough that the faint lemon tang of his aftershave reaches me through the warmth of the day. My stomach twists at the unexpected recognition. A small boy of about one year has his peachy head nestled in his father’s neck and his bottom is being supported in the hammock of an impressive bicep. Beside him, pushing the now vacant stroller, is a young woman with square, candy-apple red nails and generous blonde streaks in her hair. He leans into her and she responds to whatever he has said with a tinkle of laughter.

Do you recognize these People-With-The-Perfect-Life?

Or, so I imagine.

Until my husband left us – quickly, cruelly, and without a satisfying explanation – I didn’t truly understand the phrase ‘come undone.’ Hours melted into months of stunned disbelief as I examined the past, scene by scene with the eye of a critical jeweller. Many, many weeks I cannot recall anything beyond staring into space, conscious only of the thud of my heart and an ever-present skittering of panic in my chest. Sleep was elusive. I once got up at 3:15 a.m. and stood looking at the little red fish in his bowl as he circled, pursing his lips. When I finally decided to make tea, I realized that I had been standing there for a full ninety minutes.

Some time has passed now, but I remain fascinated by how close to the surface the pain still bubbles. This perfect couple, for example.  I had that life. I had romantic, daily proclamations of love and cozy goals about house renovations, travel, and of course, our children. I miss that life. I mourn that innocence.

When I return to the pain, as I do this day, I am no longer surprised or alarmed; indeed, it’s much easier for me to accept that I will – I must – return to this place over and over. But in between I am mostly okay now. Small things help enormously: the girl at the market who compliments me on my earrings; the pale blue concern in my best friend’s eyes; a lovely man who fixes my lawn mower for free; fat, purple hyacinths swollen with their heady scent. These are the footholds that beckon me on and make me climb.

All inclusive vs. a la carte vacations: A lesson learned

by Nicole Duquette

Corona’s advertisers got it just right. My own personal Corona commercial was what I had in mind when taking off for my last vacation. Two big chairs, warm sun, cool ocean, and a white sand beach that’s deserted except for one waitress who is conveniently there whenever the beer is running low. But, that wasn’t exactly what I got. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about a sunny week on the beach, but the all-inclusive experience simply did not fulfill my ultimate vacation fantasy.

The biggest discrepancy between my mental image of the vacation, and the real thing was that the beach and pools were anything but deserted. We were met by an astounding 3,000 fellow hotel guests. My first thought upon being confronted with the mob of sun worshippers was, “We should have gone to Europe.” At least in Europe, if there’s a mob it’s a mob observing great historical monuments, and discovering rich cultures. But, European vacations (or any non-all-inclusive vacation for that matter) are not all that relaxing.

Á la carte vacations, ones where you control the entire itinerary and pay for everything are great adventures, but they can also be hectic. Racing to catch buses, trains, boats, and planes adds stress to what was supposed to be a stress-free vacation. Not to mention, navigating language barriers, waiting in line-ups that are bigger than the attractions themselves, and finding out your hotel is really a hostel can quickly cause blood pressures to rise. When nothing goes wrong á la carte vacations are dreams of wine, cheese, and riverside strolls come true, but when does nothing go wrong?

As great as á la carte vacations can be, this time around relaxation was my main goal, so an all-inclusive southern vacation was the obvious choice. Even though there were more party people than leisure seekers, we did find what we were looking for. After a walk around the entire resort, we discovered a second pool where the music was soothing rather than blaring, and the ratio of children to adults was significantly decreased. We parked ourselves there for most of the week, and let the tensions of home melt away.

By the end of the trip, I no longer regretted not planning an á la carte European vacation – we can always do that next time (I still think they are fun – busy, and fun). But, this time I still would have preferred a smaller, adults-only resort, so lesson learned: research the size and atmosphere of the resort, not just how many swim-up bars there are. Or, maybe next time I’ll just call Corona’s advertisers and ask where their private beach is.

Little expenses can make a big dent in your finances

I just spent $2,000 on car repairs. I know it’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things, and to be fair, my car does treat me quite well considering my complete and utter lack of care for it, but no matter how much money I make, I will always resent the unforeseen high dollar expenses that seem to pop up when you least expect it.

I tried to explain this to my sister, and she laughed at me!  Her response?  “You spend more than that per year on sushi.”  This got me to thinking; I have mini heart attacks about something like an expensive car repair, but I don’t think twice about the unnecessary smaller amounts that I spend every day. When you stop and add them up, those little expenses can add up in a big way. So, I decided to make myself a list of the daily little expenses I indulge in and calculate what kind of a dent they actually make in my finances.

First on the list? My daily vanilla cappuccino. At $3 a day about five days a week, that sets me back almost $750 a year, taking into account vacation weeks or miscellaneous missed days.

Then of course are my lunches on the go, and with my tendency to avoid the fast food joints, this easily runs me about $10 a day. That’s $50 a week and $2500 a year.  Yikes!

I’m also a convenience junkie, and that reflects most prominently in my monthly bank fees. I can seldom be bothered to find my bank’s ATMs when I need cash, and depending on the machine, the fees can range anywhere from $1.50 to $3.00 per transaction.  A few of these per month and I’m probably spending an extra $200 a year.

I’m sure there are more incidences that have become so habitual I can’t even think of them off hand, but I’m sure there are solutions to these unnecessary expenses that would work for my bank account and my lifestyle.

I could invest in one of those fancy schmancy premium coffee makers and have my daily vanilla cappuccinos at home. Making my lunch at home might be a little more time-consuming, but I would certainly reap the benefits of a lower price point and even healthier (and probably tastier!) lunches.  As for the bank fees – I guess I’ll just have to suck it up and spend the extra five minutes to actually find my bank’s ATMs.  I have a smartphone – I’m sure there’s an app for that.

I certainly don’t think I should have to forego all of life’s little pleasures in favour of a strict and unyielding need to save, but maybe there’s a way to enjoy all of my little luxuries in a more cost effective manner.

The Fords go to Hollywood

In a surprising turn of events Rob Ford, Toronto’s ‘sort-of Mayor,’ has been invited to attend the 86th Academy Awards and appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! In a not so surprising turn of events the Mayor has accepted the invitation.

Torontonians should be reminded this is a man who announced just a few days ago on his YouTube show, Ford Nation, that he does not consider himself to be a celebrity. He assured viewers that he is just an average work-a-day schmoe. All that stuff about being the Mayor of North America’s fourth largest city and having mega-stars Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon discuss his antics on The Tonight Show; pfft!

Joining Rob Ford will be Doug Ford, the soon-to-be former councillor for Ward 2, three political staffers, and Randy Ford who’s the third and usually far more subtle of the Ford brothers. This is where Torontonians would be advised to begin asking Ford questions. First, who is paying for this little trip?

Rob Ford has long claimed to be a fighter for the taxpayer: the little guy. However, his record of tax increases in conjunction with service cuts tells a very different story. So too, has his tendency to utilize city funds for personal projects since being elected mayor.

Further, Torontonians would be advised to ask if this is really the kind of individual they wish to represent them. The election of Ford in 2010 can be forgiven. However, since then Ford has openly admitted to purchasing crack cocaine while being mayor, associated with known members of gangs and those involved in organized crime, and used publicly defamatory and vulgar phrasing unbefitting of the office he holds. What’s more is he has shown absolutely no remorse nor attempted to reform of his actions. Is this really the international face you want of Toronto?

With a new mayor, Toronto his the potential to be world class. With Rob Ford at the helm, we’re left as an international punch line.

It is time for us to take the situation seriously. A number of qualified candidates have come forward, and I think more candidates will make themselves now as the mayoral race progresses. It’s imperative Torontonians realize the absolute necessity for change at City Hall.

So, is Rob Ford just your average Joe?

That depends. Does your average Joe attend the Oscars, appear on late-night talk shows, and own an unspecified number of properties that happen to include an international corporation?

Follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanAGlass.

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

Email etiquette: 5 things to consider when sending outgoing mail

by Heather Lochner

Out of curiosity, how many times have you received an email that has left you shaking your head in bewilderment? Wondering, “What the heck is she thinking?” Or to be less diplomatic: “Why is she being so rude?” It happens to me on a fairly regular basis. You see, I have this friend who has no clue how to properly converse on email.

Her lack of proper email etiquette usually happens when we have group emails. It starts off innocently enough. Someone sends out an email saying “Hey everyone, has been ages since we have seen one another. How about we get together for dinner? Here are some dates, and I think we should try such and such a place out.”

If not initiating the email, I am usually one of the first to respond. My email usually says, “Fabulous idea. Here are the times that work for me. Thanks for getting this going and I can’t wait to see everyone.” Others usually respond in the same vein.

And then my friend weighs in with an email saying something like, “Doesn’t work for me.”

And I sit there, reading her response wondering, What the heck do I do with that? Do we plan without her? Offer up some new dates? My first reaction is usually anger. I want to see a “Thanks,” or “Great Idea, but…” I want her to offer up a solution. Not leave us to guess what to do. After my frustration subsides, I move to “oh well,” and hope the rest of us continue planning. But I always wonder, why? Why are her responses so limited?

Until I realized, she really doesn’t know any better.

After much thought I have come up with the following five points to remember when emailing.

  1. Email has no tone. It is up to you to set up the feeling of the email.
  2. Using all capitals can come across as yelling, not enthusiasm.
  3. Re-read what you wrote and make sure it sounds okay and not insulting.
  4. When sending out an email to a large group of people, use the BCC function. Not everyone wants their email address publicized.
  5. Don’t use email to avoid a situation. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to go when expressing something personal.

I’ve found that following these simple tips makes my use of e-mail much more effective in both my personal and professional lives.

Being 50 isn’t for sissies

I am not able to provide a specific date, but there was a time when the guy in the car next to me at the red light was actually looking my way and hey, I was looking back. Not an openly encouraging come hither glance but more a sardonic, lips slightly parted smile, eyes hidden behind sunglasses. After all, I could have been looking beyond him or directly at him. Similar things happened at the grocery store. Lingering eye contact over the deli counter, a feigned interest in the Havarti slices. Now it’s all about shaved or sliced smoked chicken – and really, that’s what it’s all about.

When I pass a group of teenage girls now, I’m self-conscious. I feel the heaviness of their glare expertly delivered from beneath sooty eye lashes and iridescent lids – they despise me. I am older, and not just older than them. Old-er. It’s perceived to be a weakness. There’s something horribly primal about it, as though hyenas are driving a member from the pack when they are no longer vital. Perhaps I should feel smug, armed with the knowledge that one day their bejeweled navels will in fact be frowning or possibly hidden altogether but this kind of speculation holds no appeal for me. Instead I focus on my own decline, wondering what is on the back of my leg in the shower (it’s my bum, people!). Hating myself for it all the while, I also click on “Celebrity Secrets” online just in case.  Disappointingly, the “secret” is lots of water and a personal chef — well, that and $35,000 worth of cosmetic surgery.

I’m not sure why I even cite these strange examples here, but they provide subtle markers that I am changing and even more weirdly, that how society perceives me is changing. Someone in line asked me if I was shopping for my grandchildren and I literally could have dropped to my knees with the sting from that innocent remark. But it’s technically possible, I guess. A few years back – perhaps the same time as the deli-staff lost interest, who charts these things? — people also stopped being older than me. Very inconsiderate, but I’m getting over it.

The bottom line is that I am trying hard to accept all of these challenges with grace – and gratitude — for the life that I have. Youth may be wasted on the young, but I want to be sure not to waste anything.