Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I’ve always found rainbows hopeful and associate them with positive imagery—maybe it has something to do with growing up watching Rainbow Brite cartoons?
In Greek mythology the goddess of the rainbow was Iris, who carried the wounded Aphrodite to safety along the rainbow's arc. Many native cultures see the rainbow as a pathway of souls or a bridge to heaven. And of course, there’s the Irish legend of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Conversely, there are some cultures that think otherwise: A folk legend in Finland says the rainbow symbolizes the sickle of the thunderstorm god (how à propos considering tonight's stormy weather). In other traditions, the simple act of pointing to the rainbow means you could lose a finger, or gain an ulcer. A Romanian legend has it that anyone who passes beneath a rainbow undergoes a sex change.
If I was the type to search for meanings and symbols, I might think that these rainbows were a sign. I got an unexpected call tonight from a friend I haven’t seen since last fall, inviting me to a BBQ this Sunday. Apparently there’s a guy they’d like to set me up with. This could be promising…
Meanwhile, I can’t believe that May is done. How can it possibly be June in less than an hour!?
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Good thing I did because I’ve wanted to take a Learn to Run clinic for the last year and found one that starts later this week. Ideally, it would have been nice to start in the spring, but I missed the first 2 weeks of the clinic that begin in April because I was in Europe. Considering how hot it’s been and it’s not yet June, I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect of running outside in temps of 30˚C/+. I registered online anyway because there’s no obligation. I meant to call tonight to find out how long the clinic runs in the evening, but got caught up finishing my lariat necklace.
I also meant to go to the gym, but rationalized that I’d do some exercises on the ball at home to make up for not going out. Besides—I’m doing the environment a favour by staying home. I’d just be contributing to the smog and pollution by driving to the gym, right?
Monday, May 29, 2006
Given the heat and smog, the TTC union had to choose today of all days to go on a wildcat strike (and while we're at it, whoever came up with that phrase anyway?), compounding the smog by forcing commuters who would normally ride transit to drive their cars to work. The roads were a mess and by the time service was back up and running, night had fallen.
It was so hot today that I had to turn back from my lunch-hour walk. About 10 minutes in, I felt the sweat gathering between my shoulder blades, and the last thing I wanted was to go back to my desk all hot and sticky, so I re-traced my steps and sought refuge in the nearby (read: air-conditioned) Second Cup, where relief was found in a pink grapefruit-flavoured Italian soda. Ahhh!
It seemed, too, that the weather inspired many to pull on this summer’s hottest trend: summer white. I have nothing against summer white. In fact, I bought the perfect white summer dress today, so I’m all for it.
I do have a problem with summer white when people choose to wear it inappropriately: I’m referring to the chick who wore the thin and tight white cotton tank top without a bra. And the other chick, who didn’t look in the mirror when she walked out the door in a long tunic masquerading as a dress. It would have been perfectly fine if perhaps she had worn a slip underneath it…and, oh, maybe panties that were not dark blue might have been a good idea too.
Girls, have a little respect for yourselves and the people around you—making Glamour’s Don’t List is NOT a Do. The general public does not want, nor need to see your nipples, or your underwear. If you’re going to wear white in the summer, please do everyone a favour and do so tastefully.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Much as I love flowers, I don’t know if I could ever get into gardening. Handling dirt, even with the protection of gloves, is a bit gross when you have to deal with fat, gooey-looking worms and other icky-looking creepy-crawlies that call the earth home.
The rest of the afternoon I spent working on my lariat necklace. There’s something very therapeutic about the repetitive threading of beads…After sitting quietly for a few hours with Craig David on my iPod, I ran out of the seed beads that make up much of my necklace. Guess I’ll have to drop into the bead store sometime tomorrow to pick up some more supplies.
(Funny thing—there was a lady at our table last night at dinner who also beads. It came up in conversation after I’d left and she gave my mother a list of bead stores to pass on to me, which I found very thoughtful.)
So the parties…both were to celebrate birthdays, and interestingly enough, there’s a 1:3 ratio of decades to guests. (I have no plans to celebrate the big 3-0 in such a grand fashion. I think I’d be content to let it pass quietly.)
The first was a sit-down Chinese banquet for a very dear and old friend of the family who is celebrating his 90th year. There were probably about 300 guests, some of whom had flown in from Hong Kong, Taiwan, the U.S. and Jamaica to attend. As one of the first Chinese to arrive from Jamaica, he has helped settle the many who followed him—my father included. He’s literally (with about 100 godchildren and counting) and figuratively the Godfather of the Chinese Jamaican and Hakka community in Toronto. His life story is a fascinating one and I wish I could have stayed the entire evening, but I had to leave after the 5th course—missing the roast chicken and lobster dish!!—to make it for my friend’s 30th birthday bash in Yorkville.
Party #2 was a small gathering of about 100 friends. The patio of the restaurant/bar was reserved for the birthday boy and there was champagne, finger foods, and loot bags on hand. Despite the big group, it was a pretty low-key night for me since I was able to catch up with some friends that I hadn’t seen in a while and take in the fine scenery—it's too bad and so sad for me that the cuties present don’t play on my team.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
11 a.m. - I had an appointment for a hair cut so thought this David & Goliath T quite appropriate.
I love my stylist and trek all the way out to the west end of the city to see her. I can not imagine ever breaking up with her. I’d be lost. We’ve been together now for about 6 years—longer than any boyfriend. We first met when she was working in a salon in Yorkville. When she moved to Bloor West Village, I followed. We’ve developed such a close relationship that she is the only one I trust to chop off 15” of hair in one go.
I go through phases when it comes to my hair. I love it when it’s long, but then I get bored and cut it short. I usually work my way up to a short bob over 2 or 3 visits by cutting off 3-4” at a time. The last dramatic change was for a really short, textured style…very Halle Berry-ish in the back, but kind of longish bangs in the front.
I have never had so much fun with hair product! But was it ever high-maintenance! Every morning, I had to spend about 20 minutes styling it…and then there were the haircuts. I had to get it cut about every 5 weeks so it wouldn’t lose its shape—I have a LOT of hair and it grows like its on steroids, so by about week 4, it started to look rather bushy. After about a year of commuting about once a month to see her, it was time for me to put a bit of distance between us. I decided to grow it out. I am now in a long hair phase and today she gave me some sexy bangs to sweep to the side.
12 p.m. - I have 2 parties tonight and decided this morning that I had nothing to wear so I trekked back to the east end and hit the mall with the 45 minutes I had to spare before meeting my mother. I don’t think I have ever been so efficient in my shopping. In that short amount of time, I bought 3 tops and a pot of MAC Fluidline eye-liner in MacroViolet. There was even time to consult and pick up some sample cosmetics. How fabulous is that?
1:30 p.m. - I make it home in time to meet my mother and off we go to pick out kitchen cabinets for our home renovation. Within an hour, we chose a shaker-style door in a laquered white finish and a gorgeous granite countertop that’s black with flecks of gold and burgundy. The sales rep was amazed at how quick and decisive we were.
3 p.m. – I’m back home again and settling in for some primp time to ready myself for tonight’s revelry.
I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to invest in some equipment. I picked up a pair of wire cutters and flat- and round-nosed pliers. I also spent an hour picking out beads to make a lariat necklace which I plan to start this weekend. I was so tempted to buy the semi-precious stones, but reason prevailed. I need to refine my wire wrapping style and crimping skills before moving on up to more expensive materials. I look forward to the day I can get my hands on some gorgeous lapis lazuli and pretty pink tourmaline.
(When I got home tonight, there was a package from Chapters waiting for me—The Line of Beauty and An Alchemy of Mind had arrived. Yay!)
Thursday, May 25, 2006
The problem arises when I have books waiting patiently at home for me. It wasn’t too bad when I was a kid and didn’t have much of my own in disposable income. But since “growing up” and getting a real job, it’s gotten a little out of hand. The number of unread books on my case hasn’t yet hit the 3-digit mark—or at least I don’t think it has—I’m too afraid to do a count. (The last time I was shocked by the numbers was when I counted my handbags—but that’s another post on another habit for another day.)
All these neglected books are perfectly fine—I still want to read them—just not right now. I like the feeling of having many options. If I’m in the mood for some non-fiction, I can browse my library and pick up Guns, Germs and Steel or maybe The Alphabet Versus the Goddess. If I feel like some fantasy, I can return to Camelot by opening up the second of Rosalind Miles’ Guinevere novels and move onto the final one if I decided at the conclusion of book 2 that I HAD to know how it all ended.
There is a method to my particular madness. Even though I don’t want to read the book RIGHT NOW, I know that I will later, and I’m scared that if I don’t buy it right away, I’ll lose it forever. Let’s face it, there are many books published every year and of these many books, few are lucky enough to become bestsellers and remain top of mind for readers. So, when I come across a book I like, I give in to the fear, walk down to the check out, and hand over my money.
I’m on the tentative road to recovery though and my bank account thanks me for it: I’ve started jotting down book titles and authors so I can find them again. This means I have to have pen and paper handy at all times—but that’s why I carry a big (but stylish!) tote.
Anyway, I’ve had a $50 gift card from Chapters burning a hole in my wallet for about a week now, so I did a little online shopping last night. I turned to my wishlist, and bought The Line of Beauty, An Alchemy of Mind, and Educating Alice. I got the emails today confirming their shipment. YAY!!
(Could someone PLEASE tell me why Chapters sends their books in separate packages when they’re all in stock? I got an email confirming shipment of one book, and within the hour, received the second confirming shipment of the remaining two. I've ordered online many times and this is not the first time they've done this. They need to seriously look into improving their logistics system because these inefficiencies, while probably small in the grand scheme of things, directly affect their bottom-line. OK…the analyst in me will go away now…)
And! I also got a call today from my friends in London! Unfortunately, I had stepped away from my desk so there was a voicemail waiting for me. The good news is that they picked up my books at Persephone! I’m sooo excited! I gave them a short list of 6 books in order of preference, so I don’t know exactly what they bought for me…I’m going to let that be a bit of a surprise…I expect to receive them Monday when I meet my friend for dinner.
I will be awash in new books! :)
 I’m reading The Tipping Point right now and the example of how Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood gained a following and eventually made it to the bestseller’s list immediately comes to mind. I haven't read it yet and to be honest, I'm rather indifferent about this one.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
On to a topic that’s a little more fun: I ordered a custom tuxedo-style suit in December. There was never a rush for it, and since it's being made by my mother's friend, I haven't been particularly pushy. I got the suit back about a month ago and all was fine, except that upon closer examination, I realized that the fabric for the suit and jacket were from a different dye lot—the pants were grayer and the jacket was blacker. Granted, the jacket was an afterthought…I had the pants made first, and because the fabric was so beautiful (it’s wool and has this shot of silver running through it in a pin-stripe pattern) I decided to get a jacket made to match it. Anyway, long story short, I had to get a new pair of pants made to match and this order was put in 3 weeks ago…I called today, and they haven’t even been started yet! Grrr. I’ve also been thinking about getting a dress made—something in a nice summer white—and maybe some dress capris. It’s so hard to find pants that fit perfectly sans alteration.
Delayed gratification sucks.
Monday, May 22, 2006
I wish I had come across them sooner since I was in London in April and could have visited their charming shop in person. Thankfully, one of my dearest friends will be coming to town for a visit next week and has agreed to pick up a few titles for me. I can start my collection sooner, rather than later!
From their website:
“Persephone prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. The titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial…Our titles include novels, short stories, diaries and cookery books. They are all carefully designed with a clear typeface, a dove-grey jacket, a 'fabric' endpaper and bookmark...”
I suspect that this may be the start of a serious book habit…how gorgeous and perfect will they all eventually look, lined up on my bookcase?!
I’ve never been one to let critics influence my movie choice (how else do I explain Spice World?), but it turns out that the critics were right. The movie was slow and lacked the fast-paced thrills in the book that kept me up until 4 a.m. on a weeknight and tempted me to pull an all-nighter to finish it in one sitting. The guy sitting next to me in the theatre must have thought it was a bit slow too, because he was asleep for half of the movie.
For the most part, it was pretty faithful to the book, although I didn’t remember all the details since it had been a couple years since I read it. We went to the nearby Chapters afterwards to compare the movie to the book and found, not surprisingly, a table devoted to The Da Vinci Code. There were even guide books specifically for readers who wanted to follow in the footsteps of the fictional Robert Langdon, which I suppose shouldn’t have been all that unexpected since I’d read an article in the Globe on DVC tourism in Europe. Who actually BUYS these books and guides, though?
I’ll admit that after reading the novel, I googled Opus Dei and the Priory of Scion to satisfy the curiosity that was peaked. And I just had to refer to my old Humanities text to study the print of The Last Supper I knew was there. But I’ve never felt the need to go out and buy the assorted books that have been written to de-bunk Brown’s title, mainly because it’s a work of fiction, first and foremost. While he’s woven-in researched “facts” and “history,” as a writer of fiction, he has a license to change these facts and histories to suit his needs.
J. Peder Zane’s column in The News & Observer argues that “The better known the subject, the more liberties the author may take. A novel about an obscure figure—which may largely shape our memory of the person—must hew closely to the facts.” I love my historical fiction and period films, but not once have I taken what I’ve read or seen as gospel (pardon the pun.) I will often refer to more trusted and reputable sources after a reading or a viewing to try to separate the facts from fiction.
After watching Camille Claudel, a bio-pic that chronicled the relationship between the sculptors Claudel and Rodin, I referred to my old-school Encyclopedia Britannica to read about them. I did the same after reading Jean Plaidy’s The Courts of Love: The Story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, and countless other fictionalized accounts of history. I’ve therefore never understood people who don’t have that curiosity for more knowledge. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had an interest in history that I do this extra homework or maybe I'm just weird that way.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
At the time, I wrote an essay on the theme of appearances vs. reality, and I recall that one of my examples was how Darcy gave the impression that he had no interest in Elizabeth, meanwhile, he was in love with her and wanted to marry her. Another example I gave was how Wickham tried to pass himself off as the wronged party in his falling out with Darcy, when he was actually the one who had done the wrong. Clearly, this wasn’t a sophisticated study, but it was sufficient to get me an A—my English teacher either had really low expectations, or the rest of my class wasn’t too smart.
There was one passage of the book which struck me—in vol. II, ch. 8, Elizabeth is visiting with Charlotte and meets Darcy again at his aunt’s estate. They have just had dinner and Elizabeth asks Darcy’s cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, why he, Darcy, finds it difficult to speak to strangers. Darcy himself replies that he’s not like others who have the talent of “conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”
Darcy’s attitude towards strangers reminded me of another book that I had read a while back, Nuala O’Faolain’s My Dream of You, where the heroine is being chastised by her best friend for being stand-offish:
…except when I was actually working, I was shy. I stood against the wall, at breaks, with a mineral water.
You frighten people, Jimmy said. You look as if you’re saying, Let them come to me because I’m damned if I’m going to them.
It’s not that, I said. It’s half that I don’t know how to chat and half that I don’t feel confident anyone wants me to.
…[Jimmy said,] You need a therapist. Everyone here knows you’re terrific except you. Anyone would be glad to talk to you.
I flagged this passage of the book when I read it because I completely identify with the feeling of being shy to approach people I don’t know too well, or at all, for fear that I would have nothing of interest to say. I respond far better when the other party initiates and I feel that they want to engage me in conversation.
It’s ironic how shy introverts are often perceived to be snobby or arrogant when they’re actually not. Maybe Darcy was an introvert at a time when people didn’t know what introverts were—he was just misunderstood!
Jonathan Rauch's (slightly tongue-in-cheek) article, Caring for your Introvert examines how one should engage with this personality type. As an introvert, I, myself, will go through periods of what seems like endless socializing and interaction, but then I get wary of people and feel the need to switch to my anti-social reserve—which sounds far more severe than it actually is, honest!
To get back to Darcy and Elizabeth though, they eventually find their way to each other’s true selves and live happily ever after. The many love lessons in Pride and Prejudice and Austen’s other novels may be reviewed in Lauren Henderson’s funnily helpful Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating—sort of like a Regency-period-themed He’s Just Not That Into You.
I did the quiz at the end of the book to find out which Austen character I am most like and, oddly enough, it’s Elizabeth, who is described as “outgoing, funny, and direct. You want a serious relationship, but it’s essential for you to find someone you can have fun with or teach to have fun.” I’m verging on Mary of Mansfield Park though, who is described as “bitchy, clever, cynical…You need someone stable, not flashy, to balance you, someone who will be capable of dressing you down when you need it, but who will love your dry wit and your confidence.” Ha!
Saturday, May 20, 2006
I’d never actually had dinner there before, figuring that I had plenty of time to head back to give it a try. But the years passed and my time had just about run out. So I changed the day’s plans to dine there tonight.
The restaurant was as I remembered with its dark red, mirrored glass, and pressed tin walls. There were framed prints of vintage Lillet and Campari ads and Tamara de Lempicka posters that enhanced the 1920s mood of the establishment. Funnily enough, we were led up to a booth in the second level—how traditional.
After some consideration, we decided to each try one of the thirty-two moules et frites offerings. I was torn because I was rather hungry, and when I’m really hungry, I tend to favour juicy steaks. But since I was in a Belgian restaurant, I thought it appropriate to savour a taste of their “national” dish.
The yummy mussels were served in a pot and the fries were perfectly thin and crispy—just the way I like them. I had the Moules Poulette (wine, cream, lemons and mushrooms) although I was tempted to order the Moules à la snob (wine, tarragon, herbes de provence and cream) for the name alone. My companion had the Moules poire William (pear cider, herbs, onions, peppercorns) which I actually preferred because the pear cider leant the mussels a hint of fruity sweetness.
I wasn’t quite sure that we would have room for dessert after our appetizers and a bucket-full of mussels each, but I was feeling a bit indulgent given that it was a farewell meal after all, so we shared a chocolate mousse, and I even had a café Espagnol.
According to the paper, chef-owner Roger Wils is decamping to Niagara to open a winery. He mentioned tonight that he may eventually open a small dining room there…so perhaps it isn’t a “good-bye” I bid tonight but a “see you again” at some other dining table in the future.
Whatever the case may be, thank you, Café Brussel, for the memories.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Given the choices, it took me a good 20 minutes to decide on what beads to use from the limited selection included in the class materials. I changed my mind countless times and finally had to stop looking at them and read my book or risk changing my mind again.
We learned the basics of using the various pliers to cut wire, crimp, loop and close through the making of a pair of earrings, a leather necklace with dangly beads, a floating necklace and a beaded bracelet. I wore the beaded bracelet home and bagged everything else. While I love the design of the wire necklace I made, my execution was quite poor—I need to practice my crimping. I figure I can cut the wire and re-string the beads later. I’ll take the wiring workshop next and perhaps decide then whether or not to invest in a pair of wire cutters and some pliers. Although it’ll probably be just a $40 initial investment, the last thing I need is to buy something in the heat of the moment, so to speak, only to have it collect dust somewhere later because I got bored or lost interest.
I think this new hobby might possibly teach me the virtue of patience. I’ll need a lot of that when it comes time to string together the tiny beads to form some of the long strands I will need for the design of a necklace I have presently flitting around in my mind.
Maybe I'll start putting pencil to paper and get my design ideas down...oooh...I can buy pencil crayons and do the drawings in colour! The last time I bought pencil crayons might have been in grade 9, when I took geography and needed them to colour my maps. I'm getting all nostalgic now, thinking about it, because a Laurentien pack of 24s was a definite must-have for back-to-school...my favourite colour was ultramarine, if only because it had a cool name.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
A Canadian entrant on the list is noticeably absent. How disappointed must the Big 5 be by this omission considering that they all have market caps (save for CIBC at US$24.8 billion) greater than Germany's Commerzbank (US$27.2 billion or €21.3 billion), which rounds out the list at #10?
OK, fine, so maybe size isn't everything. I'm sure there are other qualitative measures, like, perhaps Commerzbank has a better PR department. I suppose it's all for the best. Who wants to be compared to David Hasselhoff anyway?
So I finally signed up for a beginner's jewellery-making workshop for tomorrow night. I've been looking for something new and fun to learn and this seemed like a good idea considering that I'm a girly girl who likes pretty things and jewellery is pretty.
Maybe this can become a new hobby...I've actually wanted to do this for awhile now, but held back for the sake of vanity. Working with little beads, wires and the assorted other paraphernalia of jewellery-making would have meant that I wouldn't be able to grow my nails and maintain a pretty manicure. I've since gotten over it and am rather excited about all the new accessories I'll be able to mix into my wardrobe.
If I become good enough at it, maybe I could turn this into a side gig...but I'm getting ahead of myself here...one step at a time.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I had a chat with my VP today about the possibility of joining the Finance group, at least for the short-term to get them out of the bind that they're currently in with their VP on mat leave and an analyst having just resigned with the next busy planning cycle imminent.
My immediate reaction, without having all the details was no thanks, been there, done that—I’d left a comfortable (read: boring) role in Finance at the Bank for a reason. The last thing I wanted was to go back to routine reporting and planning cycles.
To back up a bit, I’ve been feeling increasingly restless and dissatisfied in my role. Much as I love how interesting Corporate Development is, I haven’t been as busy as I can be…and morale in our group has generally been low lately for various reasons that would take too much time to get into here.
This being the case, I was starting to wonder about what my options were…it will be 2 years this November since I joined the company…should I stay or should I go? What more could I learn? Are there opportunities for me to grow? Is there another group in the company I’d be interested in joining? If I leave, what have I gained from this role that is transferable? Am I better off skill-wise than I was before I started? All these questions, and more, I’ve been putting off finding the answers for.
There's no doubt that in the short-term, I will be loaned out since we have some capacity right now. Whether or not I want to stay in the long-term is up to me. And while I might feel pressured to make the move a permanent one, my VP assured me that if that’s not what I want, he’s willing to support me and run interference:
You’re in the driver’s seat. They asked for you which speaks to how highly they view you, so ask questions. It’s your career and you have to decide whether or not this is the right thing for you. Don’t be afraid to say no because you’re allowed to say no if it’s not what you want.
This was a great comfort to hear...so I’s got a lot of mulling to do.
Monday, May 15, 2006
He fills my heart with very special things
That's my favourite verse....this is what I hope for when I'm feeling wildly romantic.