Running stairs & the art of cat love

(The names of my friends involved have been changed to protect their privacy.)

Esmerelda, Frau Frieda, Inga, and Shirley walk into a bar….no, wait, that doesn’t happen, at least not tonight. We walk to the bridge to run stairs. Yes, on purpose.

Stairs

When they proposed this to me in the past, I thought they meant we would run up the stairs of the Cambie St. bridge and then across the bridge, down the stairs at that end, back up and across the bridge and repeat a few times. But, no, actually running stairs means running up the stairs, stop for a short gasping breath of air at the top and walk/trot down, turn around at bottom and run up the stairs, hack up parts of a lung at top, and walk/stumble down, turn around at bottom and …. you get the picture.

“How many are we doing again?” I foolishly ask. “12, it’s June now, so we need to do 12,” says Inga who is sprinting up the stairs ahead of me. “What? Why? Who made that up? This is only my third time, shouldn’t I only be doing three?”  I whine.

“You do 12. Be strong woman, but don’t smell like strong man,” Frau Frieda says as she passes me, placing a disconcertingly heavy hand on my shoulder and smelling a little Old Spicy, in my opinion.

The stairs seem okay at the start of each set, but when you get to the very last group your thighs seize and you have to convince them that there are in fact NO bear traps affixed to them. “Seriously, guys, you’re good, just run up these last batch of steep stairs for no apparent reason.”

Stopped ahead of me on the stairs I see Esmerelda talking to a man who is carrying a dog. Yes, it’s odd, we’ve seen a few people out “walking” their dogs this way. Esmerelda has had multiple knee surgeries in her life and wears two big, black braces in order to run. We joke that she often gets a lot of sympathy looks when we’re out running, or sometimes people just avert their eyes and walk at a safe distance. Maybe it’s because it looks like she should be in an episode of Dr. Who, or, more likely, Austen Powers. She’d be the villain called Legs E.

As we trot down the stairs she says, “See, you could meet single guys out here. People are always stopping me to ask about my braces and how the dial on the side works.”

“Um, so you think I should wear a fake leg brace and see if men will talk to me?” I say.

“What? I have extra brace for the leg,” says Frau Frieda from the stairs below us. “I bring for you next week, then maybe you run faster and talk less.”

Fitbits

We do some strength and stretching exercise after the stairs and Inga and Shirley talked about their last soccer game and heart rate recordings on their Fitbits. Most players hide their Fitbits under a sweatband when they play so the ref won’t make them take it off.

Shirley says she had to take it off once because of the ref, but she stuck it in-between her compression shorts (like bike shorts) and her soccer shorts – at the back, that is, near her butt. She animatedly demonstrated how she did this, well, as animated as a Brit can get.

“It totally still worked. Even recorded my heart rate!”

“What?!” I say, “You mean it actually recorded your heart rate from your ass crack?” Technology is truly amazing.

The art of cat love

On the walk back, we talk about the pug we just saw in a baby carriage, which led to a conversation about kids at Esmerelda’s school saving an injured squirrel and then to Esmerelda asking if any of us wants a kitten. She tells us that her friend has a bunch of kittens because people abandon them on her farm.

Frau Frieda notes that cats ignore the scratching posts, even if they’re laced with catnip and instead they scratch up the coffee table, the couch and even the drywall.

Esmerelda agrees and adds, “Terminator 3 can die any time now because I want new furniture.” (The cat’s name has been changed to protect privacy and keep Cativists off my case.)

“Ugh, why do people want animals that do that in their house?” I say.

Immediately Esmerelda responds, “Because of cat love. They provide love in your life.”

“Wait, you literally just said a minute ago ‘Terminator 3 can die any time now because I want new furniture.’ So does that mean you love your cat until it’s time to redecorate and then you pray for an early demise? “

Frau Frieda muses, “There are no need for prayers. Other methods work faster.”

(No cats came to their untimely death during the night, but several human stair-runners were precariously close to losing a limb to cramping.)

The dark side of paper

paperwork© Rofromyork | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Work has been insane for me lately, and, as a result, my less-than-stellar organizational skills and neatness have reached new lows.

With my mind going in all directions, and with none of my multiple personalities taking the lead, my work space looks like a Pinterest board displaying the many forms of paper terrorism.

All these tree exiles taunt me in their own ways:

  1. The company copies of the taxi vouchers proving I took a cab to some meeting at some location sit loosely clipped together and strategically placed on the edge of the desk as if in preparation for a suicide jump into the recycling bin below.
  2. A multi-page printout of some clever chart I created to show all the work that needs to be done hides in the wide abyss that is the back of my desk. The printout would probably prove very valuable if I ever remembered to consult it, or even remembered that it exists. If I don’t see it back there, does it really exist? Oh how I hate you my existential chart!
  3. Copious sticky notes that I fruitlessly try to stick to my monitors like some early warning system. They yell at me daily and sometimes swan dive off the monitor, affixing themselves to other stickies or printouts on my desk. This creates undue stress when I wonder why my technical requirements document has a bright yellow sticky attached to it proclaiming, “catastrophic results”. If that’s not bad enough, it’s punctuated with three question marks and one exclamation point, and I can’t stop wondering if it refers to something in my document or something else I was supposed to pay attention to.
  4. Random sized and shaped loose-leaf paper with detailed instructions or itemized to-dos that I scrawled out upon waking suddenly at 3 am to find my brain was still trying to nail down a work process, and, oddly, trying to solve a math equation from grade 9.
  5. Hard-cover notebooks bursting with psychotic, dancing letters loosely strung together giving the appearance of cursive writing. I can tell how stressful the meeting was by how often the blue parallel lines in the book can’t contain the letters and by how many sentences, and even words, just stop, hanging incompletely in space. Makes me wonder what brilliant thought could have followed, “Before launch make sure we”. Thank God the “catastrophic results” sticky didn’t land on that page!
  6. And, worst of all, the mysterious, and official looking, Excel printout filled with all sorts of, gasp, numbers – my most evil, dreaded nemeses! I spent a day and a half wondering why I had this document and what the hell I was supposed to do with it when suddenly a co-worker wandered in to my office and casually said, “Oh, that’s where I left my body mass index printout.” So. Not. Cool. Dude.

 

 

 

Back in Van, baby!

Well, I did it. I managed to survive buying a place in Vancouver in a stupid market. I looked for three full months and still ended up having to move all my stuff into storage while I couched surfed for three weeks before getting into my new place.

I’ve been here for about seven weeks and am still adjusting to the urban noises – having been in the burbs for the past 20 years; sirens wailing, garage doors to parkades opening and closing at all hours, upstairs neighbours testing out their tap shoes at midnight, motorcycles revving randomly and someone yelling, “Argh!  I don’t like when it oozes!” at top volume about 2 am while being chased down the street  by a women yelling, “Get back in the house!”.

But, with all that comes a 25 minute walking commute to work! Who-hoo! I just strap on my backpack and head out. Yes, I’m the geek who uses the hip and chest straps so the weight is evenly distributed. I look a little like a bondaged marshmallow, given my fair skin and hair. I like to think I give the people driving over the bridge a “WTF” moment when they see me.

I can also just step outside my door and within minutes be at all sorts of restaurants, and cool clothing and furniture shops. Of course, there’s also some sort of halfway treatment housing apartment at one end of my block and an odd church thing at the other. It’s not a church like I grew up going to, it looks more like an office building and I’m not sure what deity they worship — perhaps it’s the almighty Justin Trudeau or Bradley Cooper? I’d happily give up my Sunday morning for Bradley Cooper as long as I could confess about it later.

I’ve pretty much abandoned using my car since I moved here. My legs and my bike are my new best friends. Well, my bike less so since it’s a bit heavy and the spring-loaded security doors into the bike room make it difficult to get in. I spent 15 minutes trying to reenter the room the other day with a laden down bike. I had to flash my fob at the security panel then try to prop the weighty door open and simultaneously push my heavy bike through the door. My wheels kept turning every which way and the bike tipped catching me in between the door and bike. I imagine it is what it feels like trying to make it through the birth canal ass first.

Trying to get out of the parking lot is equally as goofy, well for me. I soon realized that, despite the extra weight I put on, my bike and I do not weigh as much as my car and I do. Together we can’t exert enough force on the rubber tubing on the ground to trigger the garage door to open. I have to stop on the tubing and jump up and down without falling off my bike. Then, when the door opens, I have to quickly jump on my bike and ride up a very steep hill. Twice I’ve had a late start on my bike and gotten 3/4 of the way up only to have the door close while I’m weaving around trying to get some momentum to get up the hill. Extremely good comedy for whomever reviews our security footage. I only hope my good ass cheek was pointing toward the camera.

All I need now is some furniture and to figure out how to fit everything that I need into such a small space. Well, since I once survived a very small womb with a large twin brother, I imagine that I’ll figure out how inhabit my new space without getting squished and losing a lot of oxygen, like I did then.

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Buying a place in Vancouver

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Now, along with overbidding on the listing price, going in with no subjects and with a deposit cheque in hand, apparently buyers are submitting heart-felt letters to their potential seller in order to sway them. Here’s my draft. What do you think? Will it give me the edge over the competition?

Dear seller,

By now you’ve probably poured yourself a large glass of wine (no judgement) and are sitting back sifting through the mountain of offers your realtor has sent you.

You’ve been looking forward to this moment all weekend. Anticipation mounting every time you received another text from your realtor telling you how everyone has been “oohing” and “aahing” about your place. You did get a bit concerned when she texted you to say there was a creepy dude there randomly yelling out dialogue from horror movies, although you were especially disconcerted to hear he had one extremely disturbing prediction: “Trump’s a shoe in!”

Now, back to your pile of offers. Some you’ll immediately toss aside with a disgusted sigh (hopefully not mine) as you gleefully move on to the others. Finally you’ll group the contenders into heaps based on the crazy-assed amount of money they’ve penciled in, crossed out, re-penciled in and smudged accidentally as their agent tugged the paper from their clammy hands.

Now, another big swig of wine and perhaps one of those fancy chocolates someone brought you from Paris, the ones with no expiration date … wonder what tomorrow will bring after you down a few of those….but, I digress.

All the piles have numbers to your liking. You check to see if any of them have tried to sneak in some pesky subjects on the contract, but you won’t find any because anybody with any skin in the game knows that the right to put subjects on the biggest purchase of their life is on par with the rights serfs had in the feudal system.

Next is to determine if the dates could work for you and then to just pick the biggest number. But wait! You could weigh in one more factor – the human factor. Who is the person behind the offer? Well, let me tell you about me.

For the past month, I’ve spent every Saturday and most Sundays looking in other people’s houses between the hours of two to four. Realtors follow me around telling me how the layout makes it seem bigger and that it has this great ‘flex space’, possibly even a ‘junior bedroom’! (Seriously, it’s 7 x 5 feet; it’s a large closest and nothing more. Can we all agree to stop kidding ourselves about this?!)

The private listings my realtor sends me are like some sick addiction. I scour them trying to imagine how close to real life the pictures are, or wonder what that odd railing thing is that I can just see through the bedroom window. I try to remember all the important details I’m supposed to look for: concrete building, avoid anything labelled ‘cozy’ etc. Like online dating, the pictures rarely are the same as the condo I see in person. That is until I walked into your apartment.

I’ve eaten twice my weight in carbs since I saw your place. I fell in love the minute I walked in the door and took in the open concept. The living space that would allow me to put more than one piece of furniture in it and the balcony that has room for three whole people on it! A bedroom that could actually be used. Unlike so many places I’ve seen in which the bedroom is just barely the size of an area rug, closed off behind blue, sliding glass doors; no space for a dresser or even a lamp.

But, you have to know that the feeling is mutual – this love of mine. I heard the kitchen call my name. I swear it sang, “Hey big spender, spend a little time with me.” I’ve never really thought of myself as a big spender, but this Vancouver housing market has sure changed that.

Half a mill for less than 600 square feet? Sure, that seems about right. What’s that you say? People in other parts of Canada can buy three houses on five acres of land for that? Well, yeah, but then they have to live in other parts of Canada. In places where they actually get Canadian winters instead of just mold behind their ears.

Oh, what’s that? You’ve finished your wine and are getting ready to speed dial your realtor? Okay, well, thanks for listening to my heartfelt letter begging you to accept my offer. Just one final word before you go:

PICK ME! PICK ME! SERIOUSLY, DUDE! I NEED A PLACE TO LIVE!!!

What the HAF?

cheese 2

Well, it’s day two of the New Year and I spent part of it at an open house get-together with some friends. While chatting to a few of my soccer mates in the dining area, talk turned to one of my friend’s snug orange shirt and her very pronounced boobage.

Esmerelda (not her real name), fondled them proudly and said, “Yeah, I know, check it out, but, unfortunately they’re part of a matching set.” She looked down and patted her belly, “They came with what I’m calling my ‘baguette belly’. I picked that up from our extended trip to France.”

I said that I had put on about 10 or so pounds myself, someone else said they gained about eight and a third said she’d put on 20 lbs. We all agreed that it was a good thing that at least Esmeralda’s holiday-acquired fat (HAF) resulted in holiday-acquired hooters (HAH!).

A few of us decided that we needed to make a pact to drop our HAF and soon. Although, the person who gained the 20 lbs, let’s call her Audrey, said she couldn’t possible do that yet because she needed to have her knee surgery first, then work with a personal trainer that her ‘not-yet-husband’ gave her for Christmas.

She punctuated this thought by waving a large slice of cheese at me, all the while being careful not slop any red wine out of her goblet. Then Audrey took a bite out of the Giant-Assed Slice (GAS). I pointed out that she could start right now by handing over the wine. I made a grab for it but she bounced me away with her 20lb-heavier boob & belly combo and smacked me with her GAS.

We all decided that technically we were still in the holiday season so we didn’t have to start losing the weight now, which was a good thing since I suddenly found a glass of wine in my hand and half the wheel of double-cream Brie oozing through my teeth.

Now I’m back home and eating as much of the Christmas chocolate and cookies I can so that I don’t have any in the house when the holidays REALLY end. So, what are you looking at? Go peek in your fridge and see what you need to eat before Monday! Then you can buckle down, put your GAS aside, work off that HAF and say goodbye to the HAH!

 

That bitch almost hit me

Well, nothing quite wakes you up on a sleepy Friday morning like almost being hit by a car.

I was walking the last part of my commute, a mere half a block from my office building, when I sauntered across the underground driveway to an apartment building, like I do every work day. I glanced down the ramp, saw a car approaching and thought, “yep, she sees me” and I continued to walk.

Back into my brain I go. Running scenarios for some work issue I was trying to figure out and already planning my first task… “What the Fuck!” – – Internal alarm bells are going off, I look up and realize she’s still heading my way, and pretty fast. I stare sternly at her, as if that will make her realize that she’s about to hit me.

Even though I hate math (don’t let me calculate the cost of the hotel for us or the tip at dinner), I believe there is a super smart mathlete in the back of my mind, tied to a chair by the cool brain cells. She suffers in silence but has quietly been untying her ropes (insert tense, suspenseful music here) for just such a moment. Springing from her shackles, already having calculated the exact number of seconds I had before getting hit, she smacks the big red panic button in my brain, which forces my body to set legs in motion and to bend oddly like a giant ‘c’ to get important organs out of the line of the impact.

Just like a lot of these people did;

The driver didn’t even realize that I was there, even after I dropped an F-bomb in her direction, she didn’t even change pace as she barreled out onto the street.

Guess I should count myself lucky. I could just as easily been typing this from a hospital bed with a leg and an arm in a sling. Thank God for that nerdy mathlete in my brain. 🙂

Some of my friends are the hottest ever

menopause image

At a recent Christmas party with some of my soccer mates, talked turned to “girl talk”. “Girl talk” evolves over the years; it starts with boys, hair and makeup; shifts to men, careers, hair and makeup; then to husbands, kids, career and that ‘fucking’ mom in the PAC who still does her hair & makeup.

Then you get the “girl talk” of this age.Today, women in my age range start to talk about “the mental-pause”, better know as menopause. One of my teammates is at defcon 5 in menopause. She warns those of us not there yet about the fun of hot flashes. I’ll relay some of her humours tidbits.

I’ll call my friend Esmeralda, to protect her identity, and Big E for short. E is 5’11 and full of muscle, a true warrior princess who has headed balls (on the soccer field) that most men would shy away from. She’s been concussed, hit, done her share of hitting, birthed four large children and can make a mean recipe of Almond Bark.

Anyway, she tells us that regularly she’ll sneakily open her bedroom window widely in the dead of winter, hoping to cool down the sudden furnace-eruptions in her body. Her husband is not impressed. She throws blankets off in the middle of the night, cursing like a sailor losing in a midnight poker game; her husband the sudden recipient of both the comforter and the ‘blue’ language. He also has second-degree burns where she’s touched him in her frantic strip show.

They come without warning, while she’s teaching the youth of our city, don’t worry, no cursing there. She opens windows in the classroom and parents picking up their kids wonder why they are dressed in hats and mitts from the lost & found.

She says it’s particularly, um, interesting when you experience a hot flash that goes right into your vagina. She says there is nothing quite like “lava vag” as she calls it, or “hot twat”. As she’s telling us her stories, she has a hot flash and we have to put her in the garage to cool off for ten minutes. One of our friends says she could stand out on the bridge deck at the airports where they load the planes because it’s quite cold out there.

That leads us to concoct our brilliant plan of saving airlines billions of dollars by having their menopausal staff go out and de-ice planes for them. A few of those hot babes lying on the wings will help them cool down, de-ice the plane and give the male passengers something to look at. It’s win-win-win situation!

Maybe they could do the same with the SkyTrain. They could send their menopausal staff to warm up the rails on the tracks. I’ll let you imagine how they’d do that.