the musings of a cynical optimist

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What’s cookin’ in the kitchen?

Twelve. Twelve is the number of cook books I have. They take up a whole shelf that could be used for actual food. They sit and gather dust. And cobwebs. And dried up ladybug corpses. It is clear I am not quite the person past me thought I would be.


a ‘before’ picture

I can find my way around the kitchen. I’m not a clueless gal who can only make toast. But when I have spare time there are just other things i’d rather be doing. Like, a lot of other things. Anything else really. Plus my partner is a phenomenal cook so why interfere with their chance to shine. Right?

Problems with the cook books

  •  Too many ingredients in every recipe – Anything with more than 8 ingredients in it and I am out. I don’t want a bunch of mustard seeds taking up space just because I made one recipe that called for 1/2 teaspoon.
  • They are desserts – I’m cooking in an effort to stay healthy here!
  • It was from a cleanse – I can proudly say i’ve done the wild rose cleanse. I took the supplements without hurling and I don’t need to ever do it again. 
  • It was that shitty raw food book from my last blog post – No, i’m not axing open coconuts in my kitchen without proper supervision 
  • It’s 90s vegetarian – I was a vegetarian once. All the cookbooks from that era are basically cheese and tofu pastas. 

All the decluttering gurus say if someone else can find more value in these than it may be time to part with them so this is a no-brainer. I kept two books and copies of any recipe i’ve ever actually made. Success!



To organize or to create -that is the question

Every time I have a spare moment or a night to myself, I start to get excited about the possibilities. Maybe i’ll finally write a song again or read a book or cook something.clipart-stressed-out-14.jpg

But first I just need to get a few other things out of the way. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming… and I should probably do something about the pile of notes from musical theatre school a decade ago, and deal with these cassette tapes and photos that are sliding all over the place. Screw it, it’s just easier to watch all of Jane The Virgin tonight. 

I’m not a hoarder. I just collect things.  And it hasn’t been much of a problem until now. I grew up in a home with lots of space. My room through high school and university was built by my dad and had a double closet so I had ample shelving for all my goodies. 

When I moved to NYC in 2006, I arrived with just one suitcase and one backpack – like a big cliche. I often wonder how I accumulated so much stuff since then. And then I remember that the whole time i was in New York, I had 20 rubbermaid containers full of crap in my aunt and uncle’s basement.

So i’ve decided to clear out a lot of clutter once and for all. There are lots of items I am ready to part with but some have great stories and memories attached to them. And so I will be writing about my experiences decluttering as well as telling stories about some of the neat finds along the way.  That way I get to create and clean at the same time! 

The Cleanse – It’s happening

This is different. In the past I’ve spent the summer busting my ass working 6 days a week trying to ‘get ahead’ (whatever that means). But this year I did the opposite. I did yoga, and went swimming, bike riding and hiking.

But because I believe in balance, I also ate ice cream religiously, started many days with Baileys in my coffee and ended it with sangria. In my defence, there is a perfectly good explanation for the Irish cream. I ran out of almond milk and was given no other option. 

Pictured: hope and promise

At a certain point my taste buds started craving only creamy, chocolatey, salty treats which led me to my idea to do a 5 day juice cleanse.  A reset if you will. This is my experience so far: 

  1. Going Cold Turkey:  

    Other more qualified people suggest easing into a juice cleanse with a few days of healthy eating so your body doesn’t go into shock.  I did not listen to these people. I started the day with – you guessed it – Baileys and coffee with whip cream for good measure. I had a night cap of both white and red sangria. Because I am a champ. 

  2. Grocery Shopping:

    The thing with juice cleanses is, you can either pay $60/day for someone to supply you with the juice, or you can just do it yourself and it costs maybe  $15/day. Is there a quality difference? Maybe. I decided to juice my own damn veggies except I didn’t actually buy any. So that was a bit of a snafu. Realizing I had no food, I ate a mango and some blueberries before heading to the grocery store. Crisis averted.

  3. Green tea Goblins

    Saying goodbye to my morning java was going to be tough. I decided to substitute with a green tea called something something Buddha because something something antioxidants. I forgot that green tea makes me feel like vomiting. So half way through the green tea I had to lay down and ride out the nausea wave. Some blame the tannins but those are also in red wine and red wine has never let me down before. Thanks Buddha.

  4. Rice cakes:

    I really needed something to settle my stomach so I had a couple rice cakes. If you are keeping track – my juice cleanse thus far contained only solid food and zero vegetables. Still, I took no delight in eating the rice cakes so I’ve decided they don’t count.

After a rough morning  I managed to juice a bunch of fruits and veggies into 5 different combos of green coloured goo and the rest of the day fell into place. For now. 


♫ She’s got issues and i’m gonna pay ♫

People talk a lot about emotional baggage – issues we have from being picked on at school or from a messed up home life. But recently i’ve been having serious trouble with some real life baggage.

Even if you move every year, you probably have that one box of stuff you move from place to place without opening. It usually has books you’ve been meaning to read like Little Women, War and Peace or Altas Shrugged. Or maybe a few birthday cards and a year book. The only time this box is opened is when you are about to move again. You get all nostelgic and ambitious about your plans for said box. And then you duct tape it until the next move.

For me this magical box contains CD jewel cases. They are all empty. The CDs are in one of those CD binder things and have been downloaded onto my itunes. The box is heavy and has been sitting in the living room for well over a year. Before that it was in my aunt’s basement for 4 years.

hey. How'd Ashlee Simpson get in there?

hey. How’d Ashlee Simpson get in there?

The reason it is still there is because i’m having trouble accepting they are garbage. I spent a few thousand dollars creating an amazing CD collection which totally defined me as a human teenager. I spent hours in Tramps Used CD store trading in shitty CD’s like The Lemonheads that sucked for cooler ones like Green Days Kerplunk (love you Billy Joe) and let us not forget about Columbia House!

My original plan was to put all the CD’s back in their cases and sell them. Apparently this is an extremely comical idea. While i paid a large chunck of change for them, i guess they have not gone up in value the way beanie babies have. Plus some of the CD’s are scratched so i’d have to do that whole windex/toothpaste trick.

So tonight is the night. I’m dismantling them and having major flashbacks to my youth. Because it’s Easter and why not?

Highlights include:

~ Singing along to Hole at the top of my lungs whilst recording myself on the dual cassette/3 CD changer in my parent’s basement.

~ My awkward country phase featuring John Berry and Alan Jackson before that nauseating september 11th song. Worst song ever.

~ Happier music like Hanson that i had to listen to after realizing every band i loved had a member kill themselves or overdose on heroin.

~ The girl power of Ani Difranco and Jann Arden and apparently Janet. Actually i have no idea how i ended up with the janet album. I swear.

~ Any thing i personally recorded.

I really hope all the plastic is recyclable.  I will miss the good old days of the CD case but i am excited to see what becomes of the new open space in the living room

And before we all get too sentimental it should be clear that i am definitely not throwing out the liner notes. That would just be plain crazy.


There are countless ways to describe it.

I would call it tan. Others would say mushroom, oatmeal or sand coloured. 

My friends call it ugly. 

Pictured: not me

Pictured: not me

It’s been one of my favourite coats for 11 years and after an intervention i recently parted with it. I took it a little harder than i thought. I was genuinely surprised. I honestly thought the jacket was bland and inoffensive. But even my least fashion savvy friends banded together, emerging from the woodwork to tell me something a long the lines of ‘we love you but that jacket needs to go.’ 

One friend sensed my attachment to the coat and in a very nurturing tone asked, ‘when did you buy it? Does it mean something special to you?’ After a decade together how could it not?

My mom bought it for me around the time Saddam Hussein was captured. I was interning at a TV station and needed a ‘grown up’ news reporter coat. My mom wanted to buy me a more expensive one but i didn’t feel it was worth the money. It was a great day shopping, laughing, and dining together. And i recall a salesman telling me i reminded him of Audrey Hepburn.  I do not care if he was lying. That’s not really important. It was before i moved away from home for good. Sure i was alone with no friends or family, but i had Coat.

Me and Coat then moved to a small city so where i worked at a radio station. It was only a few months old when I met my friend Dustin.  After a wild night of karaoke with friends, we talked till 4 in the morning until my throat was raw and i lost my voice completely. I can’t remember what the hell we were talking about except that i was laughing my ass off the whole time because he’s really funny, and that he had a similar coat.

We talked about how shitty our coats were. The tag always hung out the back, the pockets already had holes in them. They looked high quality suede until the first wash and then it was all crunchy, weird and clearly not suede.

But still Coat and I ventured from Alberta to BC to New York and back again. She kept we warm but not too warm. She had a hood to shield me from rain, snow and that gross wind one experiences when the skytrain or subway approaches. And i’ve only had to hand stitch the pocket holes 2 times.

I have a pink winter vest, an avocado rain coat, and a floor length jean jacket (try not to be jealous) but Coat will be hard to replace. 

♫ ♪  We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
But the Coat and the song,
like the seasons, all have gone ♫ ♪ 


Happy New Year – take 2!


I received the most exciting message this week.

‘Congratulations! You’ve completed our yoga challenge!,’ it said.  I beamed with delight until a moment later when i remembered that i had quit the challenge on day 8. Oh, and that’s not all. I’m also part of a green smoothie challenge. Or was? I’m still hearing the reports from the green smoothie crew at Young and Raw. I read jealously of their new found energy and glowing skin.

I ran for a few weeks but quit that.  My free weights are gathering dust.  I still haven’t learned how to meditate either.

Whoa. What happened? The year started off with so much enthusiasm and promise.

I’ll tell you what happened. The coldyflu thing. After going a full 2 years cold and flu free, I was getting a little delusional with my immune system invincibility.  I’d say things like, ‘Go ahead and cough in my mouth. If you have a strong immune system like I do, you won’t get sick.’

I won’t bore you with the details of my attempt at neti-potting my clogged sinuses, my hive outbreak from cold medication, the 200 plus Kleenexes i went through, or the sleepless nights of choking on my own phlegm balls. What I will say is I am officially humbled. And sorry for anyone who had to be around me.  Except the mean people glaring at me on transit. I hope they get it next.  I felt like poop and couldn’t bring myself to by groceries or even move really.

No big deal, just a coldyflu thing. (It seemed worse than a cold yet better than a flu – hense it’s name).

So that is why tomorrow is Happy New Year – take 2! I love new beginnings, goals, and resolutions, and since this time my lack of follow thru wasn’t totally my own fault i’m just going to give it another go. While the coldyflu did hamper my plans it did not dampen my spirit!

So here is the game plan folks! I will do another yoga challenge to completion. I will drink 2 smoothies per day until I catch up to the rest of the pack so we can finish and celebrate together. I will train for the sun run, conquer my fear of youtube and write on my blog again. Hey wait, i just did that didn’t I. Gold star for me.

If you are in the same boat as me, feel free to start your new year tomorrow too. If you don’t have a coldyflu to blame, choose a loved one instead! The guilt and shame will vanish immediately allowing you to feel fully rejuvenated.

And because i feel like it – let’s take a moment to appreciate a few achievements from 2012. I was in school a lot and i’m really great at school. Yay for me! I travelled to Mexico and Whistler with my wonderful fiance, I visited Smithers, B.C. for the first (and likely) last time in my life. It was great and I got to bond with relatives during a 16 hour car ride.  I think we are all grateful it turns out we like each other.

I read 50 shades of Grey (the first one. I will not read the rest because it conflicts with my values. And by values I’m referring to my distaste for poor character development and crappy writing, not the oddly vanilla S n M which was kinda hot. kinda), I went to ER for the first time, learned to wax my own arm pits, welcomed a ganglion cyst into my life – lil gango. Did the sun run, lost a few pounds, became a more grateful and compassionate person, saw some great live music, mastered power point, went dance walking, and stopped using a lot of cancerous over priced beauty products.  Good times!

So cheers to a New Year – take 2!




Three years ago today i said goodbye to a friend.


I only knew him for 5 months but he was my kindred spirit, my teacher, my companion, and an amazing soul.

He ate salad, slept wrapped around my head and when we were playing i could clap at him and he’s bounce two feet into the air in pure excitement. He taught me about unconditional love. He was fearless and brave, young but wise. He took care of me when i was fighting both heartsickness and the flu one winter. I promised him I would never let anything bad ever happen to him.

I was singing him a lullaby when his heart stopped beating. He was sick and all the love in the world couldn’t save him.

For weeks i saw him out of the corner of my eyes and in my dreams. I  talked to him nightly and wrote him letters thanking him for choosing me and my partner for being his guardians during his short time on earth.

We don’t talk as much any more but i believe he is my guardian now. I also believe he is in kitty heaven which for him looks like the sink, toilet, and faucet section of Canadian Tire since he was so enraptured by running water. 

My heaven doesn’t look like that but i’m assuming there is a common rumpus room where we will meet again. And when we meet i will hold him in my arms. He was truly one of a kind. Three years later I miss that little guy with all my heart.

Love you Smudge. Thank you for everything.

Great Expectations. An apology to my hamster.

Every so often when I think about what a great person I’ve become, I think about this asinine personal development exercise a lot of my like minded friends do.  

I’m hazy on the details but basically you call everyone you’ve ever been a piece of shit to, you acknowledge and apologize for being a piece of shit. Everyone gets closure and you move on with your lives. Clean slate.

I will NEVER do this. I’ve gotten away with some pretty impressive schemes and I have too much pride to out myself. Besides, does that girl from grade 9 really need to be reminded of the fake diary entry I wrote in her agenda about masterbating over that guy from the basketball team? (It was a prank gone wrong). Live and let live I say.  

But what if you do want to come clean and that person, or hamster as the case may be, is looong gone. Which leads me to the tale of the best hamster ever.   

My first hamster was Gibble. Gibble bit me a lot. Gibble chewed through the cage. I could only play with the hamster in the bathroom because my mom accurately believed them to be disgusting little rodents. So Gibble found a hole under the bathroom cupboard and ran away to chew the drywall. I cried while my mom dragged me to brownies, and my dad begrudgingly disassembled the entire bathroom to capture Gibble.

Two events led to my disappointment with Gibble. She didn’t have balls. That’s right. I wanted a boy hamster. I also only liked male singers. I blame the media for making me such a sexist child.  

Second, Gibble didn’t talk. Did anyone ever tell you if you believed in something enough it would happen? If your parents did a half decent job, they probably raised a hopeful, optimistic child.  That’s what I was until Gibble. I held Gibble against her will. I repeated simple words and phrases waiting for her to repeat them back in the hopes that I could teach her to talk so we could be best friends. Keep in mind that virtually all kids shows feature talking animals so it seemed realistic that with enough practice, Gibble could be fluent.  

Eventually I gave up. Soon after, Gibble died. I cried all night as my mom patiently comforted me. 

Nothing eases the pain of losing a pet like getting a new one. So a few weeks later we got Karmel. Named after my favorite chocolate bar Caramilk – kinda. I can’t tell you much about Karmel. He was a boy. He was a beautiful gray long haired hamster. He got food and water and the odd time i’d play with him or feed him something weird. I think he lived for a few years. Then we got a dog. We let the dog play with him once. That was a little sketchy.

Like his life, Karmel’s death was a non-event. Like most of our hamsters, he was put in the freezer to await a summer burial in the garden.

So here it is. Let it be known that I am sorry for torturing Gibble with speech lessons.  But mostly, i’m sorry for not giving Karmel the love he deserved. My expectations were slightly unreasonable and it wasn’t your fault. You were a great hamster – even if you couldn’t talk. 

Winning! At sucking.

A gorgeous full moon - and some smouldering police cars.

Ever snort white powder off a toilet at a 2 Live Crew concert? Gotten so drunk you threw up in the hot tub? Just felt so lazy, you didn’t pick up your dog’s crap?

If you haven’t done any of these, chances are good you know someone who has. Chances are very, very good. Like, 100% good.

You see, recently, there was a riot in my beloved city of Vancouver and I was really upset. I was angry and sad, and mostly very confused about who these idiots were. They are completely opposite of me. Totally immoral, spoiled, selfish, and also, not particularily good at rioting – posing for pictures as you torch a cop car? No face masks? Come on people?!

Details emerged that many of these trouble makers are indeed normal people. They have nice families, day jobs, pay taxes, enjoy bowling. So I started questioning why I was so mad at them. And I thought of that quote.

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself.”

Well, I also hated them because they gave the best city in the world some really bad international press and destroyed a lot of businesses for no reason but that’s neither here nor there.

The truth is, most of us do some combination of something stupid and morally questionable, virtually everyday. Sure, some things are worse then others; morality is a sliding scale. But  stupidity is a vital part of being a human and we are all, at one time or another, stupid.

We justify what we do. We rationalize it. We tell ourselves stories to make ourselves feel better. But i bet you could write a list just as long as I have of bad, dumb things people do.

This list includes but is not limited to…

-lying, cheating on people or tests, smoking things, drinking until you barf more than once, trash talking other people, eating foods that we know aren’t good for us, embracing a culture addicted to oil, plastic and other things that are poisoning our planet.

I have ridden my bike without a helmet. That’s illegal.

I locked my keys in my car while it was running. That’s stupid.

I stole a guy’s hoodie. Actually he was drunk and I asked for it and he handed it over – but still, it was like stealing candy from a baby. That’s mean and immoral. And I still have the hoodie. And I’m not giving it back.

I ate McDonalds immediately after watching Supersize Me. And I don’t even like McDonalds! That’s completely irrational.

These facts combined with my love of huge crowds, my obsession with the sound of smashing glass, and my affinity for Palm Bay, give me the profile of a rioter. Holy shit!

If CBC had a record of all the things i’ve thought, felt and done that i shouldn’t have. Man, i’d be so screwed. Admit it. You would too.

So as the public lynching continues, I will judge others by the same rules I judge myself by.

Realizing my own flaws has knocked me off my arrogant throne of moral and intellectual superiority. It’s made me more humble, less judgemental and much less angry. Which is nice because some of the anti-riot people have hearts that are painted black and they have no faith in humanity. And that scares me more than rioters.

~~ The End ~~

P.S. I believe all rioters should receive the maximum penalty applicable by law. Because that was a pretty brutal combo of immorality and stupidity, a step back in evolution, and I think as humans we can do better than that.

Speaking my mind & swearing at strangers

I didn’t start off the day thinking I’d tell off the bus driver. I swear.  Quite the opposite in fact. I’ve been working hard to be a really good, happy person.

I do yoga. I sing. I, of all people, now have a fucking ‘success journal’.  I treat others with compassion and understanding and I come from a place of love.

None of this comes natural to me so this is kind of a big deal.

My friends and I have had some shitty jobs, fast food chains, amusement parks, call centres, you name it. So I’m extra kind to those in the service industry. I ask my barista how she’s doing. I ask the bank teller if he’s having a good day. You get the idea.

I finish my restorative yoga class which is a lot like play school but better. I stretch, I relax so much i fall asleep.  I leave there happy as a clam.

As a side note, I’m also 5’3 and was wearing a puffy pink winter vest which makes me look like an adorable fashion victim.

At the bus stop, the bus pulls up and the six people in front of me plow on to a very full bus. There is only me and one other person waiting to get on still. The door is open and I can tell this driver is not a happy camper. She is scowling as she yells, “Everyone behind the white line. This bus isn’t going anywhere until everyone is BEHIND THE LINE.”

I assumed she was trying to make room for me and the other woman to jump on. Why? Well, That’s what usually happens. The door was still open. She hadn’t told us she couldn’t. So i tentatively put a foot on the bus and this driver screamed at me .

“No, I SAID NO. There are too many people on here as it is. Do i look like I have room for you?”

And I said, “Okay, but you don’t have to be mean about it, YOU BITCH.”

In the perfect world, if i was a perfect person coming from aforementioned ‘place of love’, I would have said something nice and caring like, “I hope your day gets better.”. I would have realized her rant had nothing to do with me and more to do with her job stress, her family, her relationship and I would have let it just roll off my shoulder.

But this is the problem, me and people like me face… when you try to be that blissful and loving all the time, sometimes you end up denying the authentic you. You internalize your anger. You smile and say something loving when you are seething inside. I do this a lot. I do it so much I have mad shoulder tension and bite marks on the side of my tongue, from literally biting my tongue!

And from the global perspective, it is not always good to let shit like this go.

I don’t want to validate her bad behaviour by doing nothing. It creates a vicious cycle of people being pricks and not being called out on it. It makes nice people who just happen to get in the way have to deal with this by either meditating on it to release the negative vibes to the universe fairies or by not letting go and chewing their tongues off.

Yelling at someone for no good reason is aggressive and abusive behaviour. And it’s very unpredictable. I don’t let my family and friends talk to me like that, so why should I let a total stranger?

So really, I swore at the bus driver for the greater good of mankind. Everyone wins. I feel great for finally speaking my mind, and now that bitch knows she was being a bitch.

Now that is something worth writing in the success journal.