Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Northeast corner of St. James Park
 I haven't given this blog so much as a thought in the past several weeks, but here it is: the urge to blog.

Restoration and rejuvenation 
It's all about creative energy - I finally got it back. I've got some freelance work, I'm able to work from home sometimes, and I am appreciating being out of the increasingly sucky, uber-political, poo-ridden environment of Jobsite 1.

Choir is still going strong, and hoo-boy, it sure has served as a place of refuge and healing and support after losing my job. Here's our take on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

Life goes on, right? Things happen - and not always for any good reason, so, please, I beg you to not tell me that everything happens for a reason. Some things do. Some things don't - at least not for any good reason.

For example. My dad's been admitted to hospital, so I'm worried; he's become very frail over the past year. Next. I heard from my brother this morning - he and his family woke up in shock to a fire in the house. Everyone's okay, but shizzzzz. Last word was that he also has found Mimi the cat, safe and well.

The happy working life

Happy home office
This desk was made many years ago by M3I's grandfather (or was it his great grandfather?) after he lost his sight, so yes, this talented gentleman, whom I never met, built it blind.

And I've raised the height of the surface to make it a standing desk, using the sides of my dad's heavy old oak desk he had to discard after my parents' move to a condo last year.

After sitting to work for the last 25 years, it's nice to have the option to stand; I can sit too, if I want, on my awesome old piano stool that my brother hunted down for me, searching through a number of dusty old antiques/junk stores to find it. A treasure!

A fair bit of my current work, however, is out at an office downtown, on the east side of downtown. This point is extra fun because I've been working around the west side of downtown for the last 18 years, so it's been very cool to explore a part of the city I've barely ever even driven through.

The office is basically locaed in the upper St. Lawrence neighbourhood., an old part of town that still has a lot of the old buildings still standing and still in use. The Market is several blocks to the south and about two blocks west. And best of all, I get to walk through the park beside St. James Cathedral en route, and listen to the church bells every quarter hour.

Also good: the new people I'm working with, all of whom are around the mid-century age. And I do believe that two of them are becoming my friends.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ramping up

Today is the day for a new computer and I am practically ecstatic. Ya know, a dividing line between old way of working and new? The newie will actually even play video and have sound! My old laptop was given to me by a very nice IT guy who couldn't fix my old one, which he was gonna do for free.

But first — coffee.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Moving right along - working from home in the living room

Is it good that I no longer wish for all the plants in the office to die? Of course, they probably will anyway because I was the only one who watered them. But I'm moving along. I've got my freelance shingle out, and I'm getting work and getting out and feeling excited about all that.

Getting out of the house every morning, sticking to a routine, all that is good.

A few adjustments are in order though. I've been super crabby with Charlie after he gets home from school. He's an energetic kid who needs to do some tearing around after enduring the confines of school. But we live in a small place, and my home office is open, and I mean OPEN. His arrival also makes me want to stop working and hang with him. It also makes me want to keep working and start cranking at him to stay still! calm down! go listen to Annoying Orange in your room!

Not good.

But it just means a few adjustments to my new working-from-home routine.

Job #1: Get daily yoga back into my schedule; helps my mood and helps me not feel like I'm turning to cement. And it has to be first thing; maybe after blogging! I've been focusing on getting out at the "normal" time, going for a walk, getting to the coffee shop to write or proofread. And this has been a very good thing for me, but since I DO have the freedom to change it up - I shall.

Job #2: Get noise cancelling headphones. And maybe go to the coffee shop at 3:30.

It's 7 am: Yoga time!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Laid off, canned, dumped, kicked to the curb

On Thursday morning, my boss came over to me, looking sad and upset. "The president wants to meet with you right now. I have to come with you."

I walked with her, asking her to just say yes or no, was I being fired? Yes.

"I've decided your role is no longer required," he said. Whatever that means.

Since that moment, I've had a lot of support and encouragement from friends and family. I have also had a nice busy weekend, but I gotta say, being dumped sucks big time. I've given the company a hell of a lot of my energy, enthusiasm, dedication, productivity - I even helped them win an award, and on and on. I'm very, very, very pissed. It would have been horrible, of course, if my whole team was dumped, but the fact is that it was just me.
The day you're fired is fine - you run on adrenaline and fury. It's the next few days that are hard. I'm fighting very hard to not sink into depression. I can tell it's right there. The second I'm not moving, the minute I put a book down and my thoughts are allowed to surface, I feel that rotten flatness and deadness surfacing.

I know all the stuff about how it's good to have a change, a rest, new opportunities and all that stuff, but I've been welcome at that company for 18 years - a huge part of my life. And now my livelihood is cut off, my benefits will soon be cut off, and I can't just walk in and talk to one of my good friends, many of whom work there. I've got to try to get interviews at the age of 50, I've got to endure tests, write odious cover letters, network, ugh.
Gee. Do you think I've reached the anger stage yet?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You have witchcraft in your lips, Kate

Here's another weird little moment; one of my favourites, actually.

I was at my cousin's place, and he and I were chatting about school field trips, theatre, and then Shakespeare productions we've seen in our lives. My favourites of these were Henry V, and Henry IV, Part II. I saw them in high school on one of our many English class field trips to the Stratford Festival, roughly between 1979 and 1982.

My cousin, formerly a stage actor, is great to talk to about these matters. I said, one of the best things about Henry V was the actor who played Henry -- Jack Wetherall. All these years later, I still remember his name, I said.

My cousin's phone rings.

Cousin answers.

It's Jack Wetherall.

"We were just talking about you."


Don't you just love the world sometimes? I sure do.

Monday, June 10, 2013

It doesn't work this way. Well how does it work?

Here's something weird. Not cray-cray weird. Just one of those small moments that show up from time to time in this funny old world.

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, my mind wandered around, as it does, and I thought of the "I love that you..." speech Harry makes to Sally in the last scene of the movie.

Sally: I'm sorry Harry, I know it's New Years Eve, I know
you're feeling lonely, but you just can't show up here, tell me
you love me and expect that to make everything alright.
It doesn't work this way.
Harry: Well how does it work?
Sally: I don't know but not this way.
Harry: Well how about this way. I love that you get
cold when it's seventy one degrees out, I love that it takes you an hour
and a half to order a sandwich, I love that you get a little crinkle
above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts, I love that
after I spend a day with you I can still smell your perfume on my clothes
and I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go
to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because
it's New Years Eve. I came here tonight because when you realise you want
to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the
life to start as soon as possible.
I love this scene, and I love this movie. But never mind.

I get on the subway; it's a bit crowded, so I'm able while standing to read over a young woman's shoulder. What's she reading? The screenplay for When Harry Met Sally. What page is she on? The page with this very scene.

In the 28 years I've been riding the subway I don't think I've ever read a screenplay over someone's shoulder. (I read them though. You should know, just in case you ever get the chance to *quietly, please* read over my shoulder.)

Ain't it a funny old world? And ain't life grand?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Two good friends of ours both got layoff notices this week. Yes, they are a couple, yes they have kids. A two-layoff family affair. One because of government cutbacks, the other from a merger. Bluddyelle!

In other news, here's what's happening with my job search. Nothin'! No bites, no nibbles, no interviews. So here's what I'm doing about my current admitedly not bad at all situation. Truthfully, despite the BS that comes from above, my department isn't in the crosshairs right now. As long as that is true, things are good. I work with a whole bunch of really nice people, and since January, a new project's been added to my plate that I'm really enjoying; at the same time, I've been taken off the work of one of the more troublesome groups (taken off at MY request). Worked well, since the new work was heading my way, and another member of my team was looking for a change as well. (Or at least she says she was; it might be that she's just that nice and wanted to give me a break from that group's team leader.)

In the meantime, I've been reading Cal Newport's "Study Hacks" blog. Newport is all about mastering deep focus, gaining deep expertise, and what he calls "deep work," and he sees it as the key to success and career satisfaction. Or as he puts it, he's "decoded patterns of success."

He's also written a very cool book called, So Good they Can't Ignore You, which finally came to me from the library (I was on a long waiting list), and which I pored over. Newport's premise is that following your passion is terrible advice, and that trying to find a job that fits your passions is extremely difficult, i.e. are there mind readers out there, devising the perfect thing for you to do and then pay you for it? Nopers!

Newport also has much to say about our "courage culture" - the constant harrangue that courage is all you need. Fact is, courage and passion is great, but it sure didn't do much good for the Toronto woman who died on Everest last year. What a horrifying, heartbreaking story, and what a senseless death. She refused to give up on her dream. But if you remember, it was the first mountain she'd ever climbed. That's not just courage, it's foolhardiness. That's like instead of training and exercising and then doing the 50-km Ride for Heart, you start with the Tour de France (3,360 kilometres in less than a month).

Okay, back to my point about work. The thing to do instead is to become so good at the job you have that you become irreplaceable.

Now, it's obviously not quite that simple, and he acknowledges that. It's what you do with the opportunities you have - that lead to other opportunities.

The thing that's struck me is that it's all about working smart and diving deep and stretching yourself to get good.

This has given me a kick in the motivational butt, and I am now - for my own satisfaction - trying to get better and better at what I do. Before I leap forward to my next opportunity. To increase my confidence, yes, increase my marketability, but also increase my satisfaction in my career now.

It's a big year, right? I'm hitting a milestone birthday, and I've now been in the working world and out of the student world for a long time. It's time to refresh, reinvigorate, and get beyond the plateau I feel I'm in. Upwards, of course!

Coincidentally, it's been super, extra busy at the office, workload-wise. I've been bringing work home almost every night, while working during the day with a deeper focus. Good timing. If I was flailing around like I've been feeling I've been doing from time to time, I'd be in deep doo-doo right about now.

I've also been keeping up the morning Yoga Tuneups and Just Dance sessions - and I'm just now starting to feel a difference. For example, I can do my Pilates DVD. I got it sometime last year, and tried it with great dismay, and just put the ruddy thing away. Pulled it out last week, and goodness gracious, I can do it - thanks to the four yoga dvd workout rotation, I've strengthened my neck, shoulders and core.

Hmmm. Almost feel like New Year's.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

They were just $17; they must have shrunk

Gee, did my cheap Reitman's jeans shrink or something? They seem smaller, somehow.

Fact is, since I started my new little exercise-in-the-morning program 5 1/2 weeks ago I've been hungrier than a springtime bear. My program: yoga - rotating my 4 Yogalink dvds (Jill Miller, who's awesome), then 1000 "sweat points" dancing up a storm with our Wii Just Dance discs. So much fun (being serious here; it's really so much fun). Plus once a week I try to get it either a skate or a swim. I've got in two swims so far.

Not a lot of new activity, right? Takes me, in total, between 45 and 90 minutes, depending on how early I manage to get out of bed. I'm surprised it's making me this much hungrier. Maybe I should just blame in on menopause. Haha. Maybe not. Okay. I'll blame Cipralex. Which is legit because I quite consciously know that I've been hungry since I started it four years ago, and I know I was never this constantly hungry before that time. But let's not totally blame the meds. I'm my own food control board, right?

I know from reading all sorts of stuff and being a smart person that it's not about the weight, it's not about the number on the scale, it's actually not even about the BMI (unless you ask my tiny, young, fit GP, who's all over the BMI) it's about health. And I do feel healthier. My back and shoulders aren't hurting so much. But, waaah. I don't want my jeans to be too small.

What am I gonna do about it? Not entirely sure what the plan is. Yet.

Anyway. Just for fun, try one of Jill's exercises. They're really helpful. First time I did these quad stretches, I couldn't go to Choir that night, my quads were soooo sore, stretched like they've never been stretched before. But I do it all the time now. :o)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sisters and brothers

I've been reading the newspaper this morning, having coffee while Charlie and M3I have a sleep-in. So so many interesting things to read today.

Joanna Manning, a progressive former Catholic nun, has long been an advocate for change in the Catholic Church. I read today that she has in the last ten years become an Anglican priest, having finally given up on the church she had so much hope for, especially after seeing the wonderful changes that developed after Vatican II. She's now happy and fulfilled doing good within a church that values her abilites and intellect.

There's lots of talk about the Church these days, what with Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet's being considered, potentially seriously, as the next Pope. I think I'd be more excited if he were even just a teeny bit more progressive. Seems he is a bit, now and again, but ulitmately, he's old school. My one hope is that maybe talking the old-school talk is his campaign schtick, and he's got a more progressive agenda in mind if he becomes Pope. Though, apparently he wouldn't wish it upon anyone, so crushing is the burden.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was a world where Joanna Manning would be considered a likely candidate for Pope? She and Ouellet are almost the same age (b 1943, b 1944), and they're both intelligent leaders in the church. Imagine if the leader of the Catholic Church (I have to remind myself not to simply call it The Church) believed in birth control? Imagine how good that would be for Catholic women and families in developing countries.

I miss going to church. But it was just making me so mad. Going Anglican? Maybe. I've got some thinking - and reading - to do.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Too freaked out

I stopped taking the Gabapentin. To explain why, I'll tell a little story.

Every Friday afternoon at 4 o'clock at my place of work we're rewarded with the opportunity to come to the kitchen and have a drink of wine, or beer, or sparkling water. Or coffee or tea, of course, always. We have great coffee at work. Over the past four years I've been there, it's become a nice ritual to gather round and have a chat over a glass of red or white.

Back to this Friday. I spent the afternoon in my new semi-stoned state. Got stuck a few times focusing on the sky outside the window. I didn't get all of my work done, however started thinking about the 4 o'clock chat and the wine. Then thought, hmm, I wonder if I can have alcohol while I'm on Gabapentin. So I googled it.


While I'm sure lots of people have no trouble with it (and there was no warning label affixed to my pill bottle), it turns out the people who do have trouble mixing alcohol and Gabapentin have LOTS of trouble. In fact, two of the people on Page 1 of the forum ended up in the custody of the police, and no memory of how they got there. Other people got very, very sick to their tums, lots of them had blackouts, lots of them posted comments that the booze effects increase several-fold, and one said she got very, very surly with her boyfriend.

So, disturbed by that news, and not comfortable about my semi-stoned state, I've stopped taking it.

Note however, it made me feel "happy" during the day. Until around dinnertime, when I felt snappish and short tempered. And, not happy about how hard it is to get out of bed. And not happy about how when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I stagger. The stuff makes me a bit unsteady on my feet, especially in the 12 hours or so right after I've taken it.

Last night, without the stuff, I didn't sleep as well. Got up at 5 and read for a bit. But sheesh, I'm already taking Cipralex, right? Just 5 mg a day, which is half the usual prescribed dose, but 5 mg is quite strong for me. So I've stopped the Gabapentin because I just felt ridiculously over drugged, and my hot flash complaint seemed to pale a bit in the wake of this. I still don't feel quite normal. Whatever that is.

PS: If you thought the little story was going to be me ending up in police custody, sorry to disappoint.

Friday, March 1, 2013

In like a happy, sleepy lion

Happy March! And happy Friday.

I've managed to squeeze in some exercise these past two mornings despite my zonkedness. Can't for the life of me overcome the gabapentin-induced body heaviness to get out of bed at first alarm. Or second. But I did manage to rouse myself after the third (yes, I've set three alarms, because I know myself, and I always hit "stop" instead of "snooze").

And, sadly, no time for the yoga dvd - must be on time for work! Oh yes. I'm on a quest to make it to work earlier by catching one of the scheduled buses (see yesterday), which gets me to the office more quickly. I don't get to see much of Charlie awake, but I can leave earlier in the evening. So it's worth a try.

Happily I did achieve my Just Dance 1000 "sweat points". While I still don't quite know how to select songs, or make the thing show me the song titles (as I could do in Just Dance 2), it's still really, really fun, and I've found it's the perfect thing to start the day.

So. March goals: I'm continuing the first-thing in the morning exercise. Catching the fast bus. And, in honour of the peacock on my calendar, I'm trying to look a little teeny bit more polished for work. In fact, today, I'm acturrly wearing a little squib of makeup! Laws! The sleep issues and simple aging have given me some raccoon-like dark circles, and it makes me a bit happier to look in the mirror when they're covered. I tend to forget I've put the goo on and I go, damn, I don't look so bad!

And one more thing: the slow, possibly multi-year search for a new job. Things are great here at the moment, and have been quite good since the new year. My let-it-go attitude is helping. I know I do great work. That's what counts; I'm accountable to myself and my standards.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

No high this morning, but, happily, slept like a rock. Seems the tolerance for Gabapentin's side effects does increase super quickly, as promised. I'm relieved. It's fun to be unexpectedly up (also, w/o guilt or breaking the law), but it's not my thing.

The happiest thing about this morning, other than all the pretty snow on the trees, was making it to the bus on time, thanks, once again, to the TTC mobile app, called Transit Now Toronto. It's accurate!!! I've found if I leave 5 minutes before the bus is to arrive at my stop, I'll be sure to watch it zip by me, usually from the wrong side of the street. But if I leave 6 minutes before, I'll make it! If I move quickly.

And this morning, I did, running through the slush, past dawdling teenagers, onto the bus. I was so happy I took a photo.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Whoa, duuuuude

I'm working from home today, not because of the snowstorm. Perish the thought; I'm no snow wuss. It's because I've been prescribed and then last night tried a new medication to deal with hot flashes because I've been waking up a zillion times a night. Intense itching on the back of the neck, then BOILING, and sometimes quite nauseous. Then, fall asleep, then wake up FREEZING, and sometimes shivering. Then, blankets back on, fall asleep, intense itching on the back of the neck, then BOILING. And so on. You think it's annoying to read, it's much more annoying to experience. And then, day goes on, and I feel the need to fall asleep around 9, which Charlie finds quite amusing. He's even tucked me in a read me a story several nights.

Back to the med, called Gabapentin, typically prescribed to prevent seizures, sometimes for anxiety, restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia pain, and, yes, hot flashes (which may be an off-label use; I'm not sure). I've been prescribed the absolute lowest dose.


I slept like a stoned rock. I did wake up a couple of time, which is not big deal. Each time I'd close my eyes, I saw awesome geometric patterns with little cut-out figures. Not super intense, just sleepily interesting. And I woke up this morning feeling higher than a kite. Weird and rather great. I was actually unsteady on my feet, and right after I woke up, I was rhapsodising on and on to M3I about the beauty of the Debussy tune we woke up to (Girl with the Flaxen Hair - which I used to be able to play). Had 4 cups of coffee to "sober up".  Presumably the body's tolerance increases very quickly (much to the disappointment of people in the online forums trying to maintain their buzz on this awesome shit).

Feeling normal now. Working away.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More Choir

Marnie, I'm not in the photo for the NRP bit - but I'm in these vids! Probably about time I posted them here, because they represent such a fun part of my week. We learn two new songs every week, and record them - and sometimes one of our members takes a video. I'll let you find me - and one of them (one of the rather nasty quality ones I'm afraid) has my son singing beside me as well. Made me so happy.

First - one of my favourites to sing - No Surprises, by Radiohead. I wasn't a Radiohead fan until I learned some of their songs.

Next, simple fun, to prep for the holidays in December.

Next, Soupstock - a gathering to protest a mega-quarry (which WAS cancelled). We were invited to sing, and afterwards we had soup :)

And finally (enough for one blog post), for a tribute to a lovely local (& national) politician. Very cool moment for me - because my parents were on holiday on the west coast, and phoned to say, "we just saw you on tv!"

Sing me a song I want to hear

Oh bother, said Pooh.

 I'm not blogging much these days, but hoo boy am I ever getting spammed via comments. So - adding one of those wretched CAPTCHAs. I don't like the Blogger ones much at all; they're so hard to read. But I'm getting sick of "moderating" these dumb-ass things. Do you idiots really think I'm going to go to click on your stupid link? No, I am not. Go away.

In other news, Choir was awesome last night - we sang "We Belong", and the songwriter, Dan Navarro, who heard about Choir on NPR (the piece: In Toronto, an ad hoc choir becomes a community)  in December, came to hear us learn, and in some cases relearn, his awesome oh-so-fun-to-sing song.

Here's the result: Choir! Choir! Choir! sings We Belong - recorded for Soundcloud.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The faintest breeze

Unlike last year around this time, I am most definitely not sad or down. Since the Christmas holidays - I took extra days to bring the break to two weeks - I've been feeling happy, optimistic, creative and eager to prepare for the next step in my life.

It's the winds of change, my friends, and I'm feelin' that the faintest breeze that's been whispering over the past year or so isn't going away, and is getting stronger.

I'm not entirely certain where we're doing to end up - nothing drastic, mind you - but I am planning  for a certain city. All that I need is to secure a good job in that city.

However, while I'm aiming for that city, I'm quite open to considering others - it all depends on what comes my way. Every morning ca.indeed.com sends me a fresh crop of opportunities and it's been so pleasantly surprising that there are a ton of interesting, exciting jobs out there right now.

I've applied for several. Not a single interview. Yet.

More to come.

In the meantime, I've got to do my morning exercises to get my back and hips and neck in shape for my next 20 years of my editing career.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Always on the cutting edge, me

Two people complimented me on my winter boots today. First time I've ever been complimented on them.  Or any winter boots I've ever had, actually, other than the occasional, boy those look warm!

First, the woman ahead of me at the coffee shop told me, oh she loved my boots and wanted to know where I got them, and how they look good for walking. And she was likely thirtysomething, so not unhip, okay? And two, just before I left the office, a young twentysomething fellow I work with, who knows from fashion, told me how fashionable I looked with my jeans tucked into my red wool socks tucked into my boots; specifically, that I looked very Queen West. I joked, going along with his obvious teasing, that I'm just so beyond fashion, and he said, no, I'm serious, it looks cool.

Things like this in life make me laugh-happy.

For the past two winters I've been wearing these boots; they're boys, size 6, waterproof, good treads, very warm, "Keen" brand, with pretend graffiti composed of letter Ks going up the side. Don't be surprise if you next see me on the pages of The Sartorialist.