Friday, March 3, 2017

Me Without My Vice


It's that time of year again, when good, practicing Catholics celebrate Lent. Four forty days there is reflection, prayer, and self denial. I am not a good practicing Catholic, but I still celebrate the Lenten season.

This year I decided to give up a vice that likely harms me most: television and movies.  I am of the TV age. As a kid I probably watched at least 8 hours a day. We'd get home from school and watch cartoons, the Monkeys and Brady Bunch reruns. Then we had dinner followed by Odd Couple, MASH, and Three's Company reruns. Then it was network prime time: One Day at a Time, more MASH, Barney Miller, Happy Days and the Friday night classics, Dallas and Falcon Crest.

Sometimes we would skip prime time for replays of classic movies on another local station. This is where I was introduced to Woody Allen movies, Alfred Hitchcock, and other classics.

Television for me became a constant companion. It's not just a place to be distracted or entertained, it's a place to find comfort, because by watching TV I don't have to think of myself and my own issues. I can divorce reality one show at a time. Sometimes, even now, I allow television, now in its streaming incarnation, to hold me in place when I should be dealing with other things. I admit, it's kind of like a drug that way. Instead of coping or doing, I sit and watch. Sometimes I lay and watch.

But now for the next few weeks I'm denying myself this vice. My choices for entertainment are still many. I still have plenty of news to read, a stack of books, and many neglected chores to be done. I'll be interested to see how I re-engage without TV, and if I make it the full forty days. I wonder if this self denial will change my habits.  I have more than a few friends who live entirely without TV. Maybe I'll become like them. It's doubtful. But at least I'll (hopefully) have a bit of a mental cleanse.

Self denial I think is a good thing occasionally. It's a practice in discipline and takes us away from habits that may be harming us.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Are The Rich Just Insecure?

I have a theory about the rich. I think they are fundamentally across the board insecure. I base this belief on the fact that they are not easily satisfied. If they were they wouldn't need to be rich.

Have you ever watched one of those "Real" whom ever of what ever place reality shows? I did once, and what stayed with me was a woman who was throwing herself a birthday party and kept going on about how everything just had to be perfect. It made me wonder, why?

Why would any of us seek out a so called perfect existence, where everything is over-hyped, over-priced and over the top? Is it because what one might believe those things reflect about our worth? And if that is the case, why then would one need to reflect that much self worth? Can we not be as worthy with second hand clothes, a used but reliable car and entertainment that consists of the company of friends sharing what we have, be it food, stories or music?

I hope I can be thus satisfied with the latter, because that's what I have. I work hard, providing a service for others, and I'm not just ok with that, but proud of what I do. I try to defer any need to impress others. If someone is impressed by me I don't want it to be because I sought it out. I don't want to need admiration based on what I have, or what kind of life I lead. I just want to live simply and have a lovely life.

But for some, specifically those who perhaps didn't earn the life they portray, it seems that worth is a thing that must be proven over and over again. Again, I ask why? Why is it not enough to live in a small but comfortable house? Why is it not enough to wear clothing without much ado? What would it mean to such a person to not have everything be perfect? Does it makes them less of a person? Does their heart pump less blood? Do their eyes see less light and color? I don't think so.

What I do think is that a rush of endorphins creates a giddiness that is mistaken for satisfaction. But I don't think it's real. If it were it would last, and the rich would have no reason to consistently need more money, resources and power. If they were secure enough in themselves, they would not need so much.

From the outside, it looks like a glass that can never be full. What a horrible way to live, not because of what they seem to lack, but because of how much they lack by choosing not to give.

Monday, October 3, 2016

One More Week

Well shit. I guess I'm in the minority. It seems the Blogger App for iPad is obsolete, so now I have to blog via Chrome. It seems to work ok, except for the small problem that I can't blog directly into the app while offline. If I want to do such things now, I have to do it on my notepad and then copy and paste into the browser, and OMG my head is already starting to hurt. Perhaps I should consider moving this blog to my formal one, except I like the separation.

In other news, I'm in my final week of my visit to the Great White North. Autumn colors abound here right now. It's cool, but not yet really cold, and I'm wearing my sweats during the day now. There's something very happy about dressing cozy.

It's been a different kind of trip for me this time. My Mother-In-Law passed away. It was expected, but not. She was a vibrant loving woman, who loved catering to guests, children, grandchildren and dogs. When in her presence, I felt like I had a mom again. I will miss her. I know Ric does, but he's so stoic that it might not seem so to some. I'm just thankful I got the chance to know here before she left us.

It's been not quite a month since we lost Phylis, and it took a minute to get back into my Canadian routine. I only went to the library once and still have yet to crack two of the three books I checked out.  I've been baking, bread and pastries. I think I finally have my pastry dough down. And my bread has been really good lately, except for my loaf shaping, which still needs work on the sealing.

I've actually been trying to rest as much as possible this trip. I was exceptionally worn out when I got here. Even my Mother-in-Law, from her hospital bed, mentioned how tired I looked. In truth I could use another six weeks off, but the ticket is paid for and booked, and I'm expected on the Ferries next week. At least I got some rest, and for that I'm thankful.

Every time I come here, I learn a little more about my other home. It's a different kind of life up here, based in industry. Work clothes, boots and pick-up trucks are a little more the norm here. There's not the pressure to be a "Totally Awesome Rock Star" here. People just do what they do. I may feel different once I work in Saskatoon though. I hope to go back into a kitchen.

It will be a new life, a different life, a life where I move on from what and where I was before. Perhaps this is where my transition completes. Life 3.0, a lovely life. I can dig it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Week Partially Unplugged

I'm in Canada with my Partner and for some reason, my phone died. It stopped taking a charge. My partner Ric is an avid geek, especially with small electronics, but after several attempts he could not troubleshoot the thing. Since my data plan doesn't really work up here anyway, I found myself reliant upon wifi for connection via my tablet. So, I informed my loved ones that they could reach me via messenger or my spouse, and just went with it.

The first thing I noticed about being only moderately connected was the continuous compulsion I had to reach for my phone to randomly scroll through whatever. Like most people, I scroll through the ubiquitous Facebook several times a day. Without my pocket device, I was unable to do this. I went through a couple of days of habit withdrawals, but found that a digital detox wasn't so bad. And, when I did go to check online for updates the items I found in my feed seemed unsubstantial: an uplifting quote, maybe one good joke, videos of animals, and news of Trump being obnoxious and continuing to scare the bejesus out of us all. It was like looking for nutrition at a fast food place. The food there will feed you, keep you going, but you know deep down, it isn't  something that is good for you. I spent  more time on Pinterest where I could at least filter content according to my interests, and engage a little imagination. 

Without a working pocket device, I was forced to notice things around me. I admired pictures on the wall, noticed the sound of wind in the trees, which is one of my favorite sounds, and sometimes sat in quite thought. My brain unplugged and all the distraction settled, and then there it was, a small bit of clear thought. It was lovely.

But, reality of the times we live in set in. I have a kid on each coast, and an exceptionally cautious man who doesnt like the idea of me running around with such limited reachability. After a week, I finally had time and maybe motivation to see about a replacement phone. It turned out I could get a replacement, but that they would not ship it to Canada. So we decided to do a rocket run, (there, overnight and back) to Montana where I would be able to pick up the phone which I had shipped to a motel. Apparently, it's a common practice. 

We set out for Montana a little later in the day than we had planned, and even though it's a full day drive from Saskatoon, we didn't rush. We passed through acres of wheat fields in various stages of harvest. We talked to each other about future plans. Ric pointed out aspects of the harvesting process and told me stories of his experience working at a friend's farm when he was a teenager. I took it all in, the sky that seemed to go on forever, the scenery, the small towns all similar but distinct in some way. We saw old barns and abandoned farm houses that looked as though a good gale could knock the whole thing down. I saw deer sauntering across fields, hawks playing on the wind and the odd snake crossing the road.

In Montana we enjoyed our visit to small town America, dining on prime rib at an old school supper club with red vinyl booths and aquariums that separated the dining room from the bar area. The next day we inadvertently toured a good portion of the town trying to find the UPS office that was closed. I needed to return the nonworking phone, and finally found out that we could drop off a package at the home improvement store. Our path to the store however was blocked by a Harvest Festival Parade, so we enjoyed that too. 

It wasn't until I got my new phone that I realized what I was missing by not having a phone. I was missing simple enjoyment of life. Every time I go online now, I know it's more out of habit, and that its one I should perhaps curb. There's life out there. There are things to be seen, books to be read, and quiet contemplations that I want to hear within the confines of my own mind. I know I can't do these things when I constantly allow crap to litter my head. 

While on Pinterest I looked at a lot of nutrition articles and realized that my mental nutrition is lacking. I don't really believe in diets. I'm more of a well balanced, all things in moderation approach to consumption. What I learned is that that approach applies to digital consumption as well. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ten Reasons Why Tacos and Taco Trucks are the Best Fast Food

1. Tacos are a very simple food with very few ingredients. The best ones include corn tortillas, seasoned meat, cilantro and onions and maybe house made salsa.
2. Corn tortilla tacos are gluten free!
3. The only part of the taco not made on site is usually the tortilla, and tortillas are made with three ingredients: corn, water and salt. This means tacos are fresh, fresh, fresh!
4. Because the taco meat is not packaged or factory made it likely contains a lot less salt and far fewer ingredients than fast food tacos, some of which are less than 50% meat. Fewer additives mean tastier food that's better for you.
5. Taco Trucks are generally entrepreneurs and provide jobs in local communities. They also help keep money in your local community.
6. Taco Trucks take up a smaller footprint than brick and mortar establishments. And have you ever considered that the proliferation of taco trucks contributed heavily to the whole food truck industry? 
7. Taco Trucks create a social environment. Some of my favorite random conversations were while waiting for tacos. Also many trucks have billboards for flyers and announcements.
8. Did I mention the sides? My taco truck serves those little delights with small roasted onions and radishes.
9. Tacos are usually pretty affordable, ranging from $1.50 to about $3.50 each depending on the truck and the location. Only got $5 in your pocket? You can still get tacos!
10. Tacos are delicious! They're a perfect snack or meal if you eat enough of them. Now go get some! You know you want to.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Middle age is upon me. I can say with confidence that I'm wiser now. I've become more health conscious, but I go between that and the "you only live once," mentality. I still love French fries and chocolate desserts. I'm heavier than I've ever been, which is alarming. I'm clumsy, and nursing injuries as a result. I get tired and can't drink like I use to. Makeup is becoming more of a regular thing, specifically at work, where I play a hospitality role.

Life at this age was always hard to imagine. I don't think I imagined feeling like a grown up kid. I at least have a truer understanding of what I want out of life now. I work at being honest with myself about what makes me happy. Often the answer is surprising. I'm learning to be self kind, to forgive myself for not being what I'm not, or what I think others will respect. I have to respect myself, and be good with that. 

Coming out of the fog that was my life before 3.0, feels like coming out of battle. I'm fatigued, and yet a bit weary, but I feel like I survived something substantial. I know now that I can pick up the pieces and make something good. It's like cooking, when you haven't been shopping for a while. What you have is what you have, and with creativity and motivation, sometimes you can create something that is nourishing and delicious.

I know there will be more conflict. I know that my anxiety will continue to challenge me. But, I feel more grounded than I ever have before, and that's something.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Combining Camping Equipment

Maybe it was soon, maybe it was fast, but in retrospect it was time, and I'm so happy we did it.

My partner and I decided to marry. I still call Ric my partner, because husband and wife doesn't seem to fit our relationship. We are equals, forgiving of one another and ever considerate of the other's wellbeing and happiness. Besides that the term husband and wife is somewhat traumatic for both of us. We are partners.

It was a short engagement. I asked him. We had jokingly been talking about making our partnership legal for months, referring to it as "combining our camping gear." That phrase made it into the ceremony which gave us much joy.

We married in Tahoe with but a few friends and family present. Our rings...our rings, were bought from a street vendor in San Francisco and are a perfect metaphor for us as individuals and a couple. They are made by hand, hammered from old silver quarters. Like us as individuals, they are battered, but repurposed into something extraordinary and very unique. I don't think I've ever loved a ring so much as I do this one.

I think we were both hesitant to take this step. We like our relationship, not the long distance part, but the part that is total acceptance of what the other has to offer, good and bad. We didn't want that to change. Quite often I think marriage does change relationships. Many of us still struggle with roles and history, and implications as "Husband and Wife." A co-worker even asked me if I planned to continue to work. We did not want marriage to change us. Thus, we continue to be Partners, it's far more apt for how we feel about each other.

There will be some changes though. Part of the intent of making it legal is making it local, as in living in the same household. Being an international couple pretty much requires that we are legally bound for one of us to move to one country or the other. There are no firm plans yet, but at least now I have an "in" to Canada should things go totally sideways in the states.  For now though we continue to live full time in our respective countries, but taking far more time to visit one another than we have in the past. I suppose we are both believers in fate, because we both have faith that everything will eventually work out.

I can't call it conventional, but our relationship never has been.  Maybe that's why it works so well. To me it's another important step in Life 3.0. As my best friend put it, I "found my lobster."