Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Quest

Yesterday, I headed over to my aunt's house to partake in a Christmas tradition with my mum, aunt and wee cousins of making Christmas sweets together. As I left my flat to make my way over to the train station, I suddenly realized that I hadn't accounted for the heavy bags I was carrying and it would take me longer than usual to get to the station. Frantic to get there in time, I started an awkward shuffle run my bags slamming into my legs threatening to trip me at every step. A short ways up the road, and knew I wasn't going to make it. There was less than ten minutes to the train and I still had a steep hill to climb. And then, my Christmas miracle happened!

A cabbie pulled up besides me and the driver yelled for me to get in. Not really thinking, I obeyed. "Going to the station, are you? Well, I'll get you there in time. The next train doesn't come for another hour." And he proceed to drive me to the station and refused to take any money. Those few minutes were all I needed and I did make my train and got to spend a most lovely afternoon with my family.

Full of surprise and downright shock over the unexpected kindles of a total stranger, I gushed to my friends online as to how perhaps the spirit of the season was indeed alive and well.

Then I woke up this morning to the news of two firefighters who were fatally shot as they responded to the scene of a house fire. Two others were wounded and as the story unfolded it became clear that the shooter had set the fire to lure out the first responders. Today. On Christmas Eve.

All of the euphoria over yesterday's event seemed to drain right out of me. "It's not such a wonderful world after, is it?" was my query to the online world. What was the point in being silly happy over something ordinary like a generous cabbie when there were bigger, far more horrible things were happening that need our more serious attention.

But I have very wise friends, and one of them gently pointed out that both events happened. Both truths are true. The important part is that I get to choose which of these will touch me most deeply and change me most persistently. Sometimes we hone ourselves because of negative experiences and sometimes due to positive ones. Always our choice. 

Her words made me pause and think. 

Yes, there is an awful lot of horror in this world. But at every step there has been a teeny tiny glimmer of hope. Each time there is some kind of disaster, be it natural or manmade, humanity finds a way to shine through. Neighbours organized community Thanksgiving meals after Hurricane Sandy   and in the wake of the unspeakable horror of the events in Newton, CT, the #26Acts campaign was formed. 

So perhaps hope is still alive. And as long as at least one person hopes and believes in a better tomorrow, isn't that enough to keep the evil at bay? In the words of a very wise wizard, "It's not great power that that can hold evil in check. Rather, it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love." 

If a hobbit can face a dragon, I can find the courage in me to face the dragons of this world. And I know I won't be alone. All of the mighty quests involved a fellowship. There will be others, and we will help each other if one of us should stumble along the way. 

It's going to be a Happy Christmas after all. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

5 Ways to Guarantee a Christmas Miracle

There's been a lot of talk about "not feeling Christ-massy" that's been going around of late. The malls are packed (over packed) with shoppers, the radio stations have blasting carols since way back in November and every street corner and lamp post is bedecked with holly, ivy and synthetic tinsel. Huuum, yes, well I can see why it can perhaps look like Christmas and sound like Christmas and smell like Christmas, but still not really FEEL like Christmas.

So, rather than sit around and moan about how Climate Change has made it soooooo difficult to really enjoy the season without the mandatory dusting of snow and such, here are 5 ways guaranteed to make you feel joyful and bright and all that Christmas jazz.

1. Winter Wonder Walk
If Christmas has really become all about the commercialism, well, why not just embrace it instead of fighting it? Pop on a headset with some classic seasonal tunes and talk a walk along main street and check out the beautifully decorated shop windows. Merchandisers have gone all out in their efforts to out do each other and lure in the most number of shoppers. Might as well give them their due and enjoy their creativity while humming along some of your favourite songs of the season.

2. Bake Fest
Nothing screams festivities more like the wondrous aroma of baking. Gather some of your close pals and try out some old family favouries or attempt a new concoction. The results don't even matter. It's all the fun you will have in the process that counts!

3. Letter of Thanks
In spite of how crappy you are currently feeling about your apparent lack of seasonal cheer, let's stop a second to think about the hundreds of thousands of men and women of the military who are far away from home and their loved ones serving their countries. Sure, it's not like bygone times and they have access to the internet and can still keep up with happenings at home; but I'm sure a card with a wee note will make a world of difference. Even if you say nothing more than a simple "Thank You".

4. Share your Love
Pretty much every charity, homeless shelter or foster home out there is looking for volunteers to help out around the holidays. Heck, come to think of it, they're looking for a few good people year round. Walk into any one and there is a whole heap you can help with. Wrap a present for under the tree, serve a meal, read to someone or just have a chat. It will make more of a difference that you will ever know and the kick backs of goodwill towards mankind can never ever be underestimated.

5. Count your Blessings
Sounds corny, yes. But it is incredible how much we don't realise we have! But it all down on paper and when you see how it spills onto page two you'll find that all your Christmasses have come all at once!

Whether or not you decide to do any of this, I wish you, Dear Reader, a most happy of holiday seasons. May love and laughter be the gifts that adorn your home and the comfort and joy of friends and loved ones around.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Version 2.0

It goes without saying that I haven't visited blog land in quite a while. I'm surprised I even recalled the correct password. Logged in today and looked at the very faraway date of the last entry. How did I go from writing TWO blogs to none at all? From dancing almost very day of the week to not once in over three years?

What does this say about me? If I'm not doing the things that made me me, am still me any more? Or perhaps, just an imitation. A different version.

I non writing, non dancing Pixy can exist, yes.

But will she be just as interesting as the one that I knew and loved? And what about you, my blog land pals. How are we still to be friends if I don't come on here?

Something tells me that I'm ready to give up the old Pixy, but not the Pixy pals.

And so, I must try harder. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Love

I don't have a TV, but I am in a committed relationship with Netflix and I watch all of the current shows online.

People do look at me strangely when I say I don't have cable. Or a TV.

I suspect they figure that since I don't have a boyfriend, I should at least have basic cable in my life. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stating the Obvious

Got home from work early(ish) today to prep for tomorrow's big Halloween celebrations at work. Since I had foolishly agreed to a client meeting during the day, there was the added pressure of trying to find an outfit that would make the quick switch between regular clothes and costume! After emptying out the entire contents of my wardrobe onto my bed, I decided that pirate was the easiest option as I already had the accessories and it would be quick enough making an eye patch to complete the look.

I retrieved the piece of felt and laid it out on the kitchen counter. Since we don't have a dining table, the counter serves dual purpose. On surveying the cutlass and ornate pirate like pistol, I deem that they could both do with a bit of a jazz up. Gold paper would do the trick, so I left the stuff on the counter and popped round to the shops.

Got back to find the Flatmate in a state of cleaning flurry. "Thought I'd scrub everything down", he said beaming at me. "About bloody time" is what I thought as I looked around for the piece of felt. Where the heck was it? I'd only just laid it out along with the scissors and elastic. Wait, what was that crumpled up thing in the corner? Sopping wet and ragged? My felt!!!! What?!!

Flatmate sees me lift it up. "By the way, we need a better counter cloth. That one sucks. Doesn't absorb a damned thing. It's like it's felt or something!"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Career Choices

The thing I love the most about being a commuter is the variety of folk you tend to see, meet and interact with on public transit. Usually I am a passive observer of the kaleidoscope of life. Today was different. 

Lady (and I use this term loosely) on the streetcar with a persistent hacking cough. After about 20 minutes of having her hack up a lung, another lady approaches her and says, "I have some cough drops, would you like one?"

Cougher lady reacts with a venomous hiss (really!) and shouts of, "Leave me alone! Stop HARASSING me!!" 

While the poor Samaritan tries to creep awa
y from the unexpected onslaught of verbal abuse, I suddenly find the whole thing hilarious and start laughing. And because I am laughing like an out-of-control hyena, the folks around me start to laugh as well.

Of course, this does nothing to calm the Cougher and she gets even more enraged and the shouting escalates and there is hand waving involved.

Finally, much to everyone's relief she gets off the vehicle and the last we see of her is the rude gesture directed at a streetcar full of giggling riders.

Moral of the story: I realise that I am not suited for the Diplomatic Corps.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Lord and the Universe both work in Mysterious Ways

For a year I had been holding on. To the past, to the memories. There were things I was clinging to, as if it would make it less painful to have been ripped out of my past life and put into my present one.

Even when things got better and the wounds healed (like all wounds do), I still held on to silly things that I felt would make me feel better. Like my phone list that had more international than local numbers. I would scroll down looking at all those numbers that began with +44 and thinking about the number of times I used to push "call" against one of them.

Last week Beer Baron declared that it was about time I joined the current century and passed along his old Blackberry. Before I could protest (too much), he'd swapped my SIM cards over and in one fell move wiped out almost all of my contact list.

No more +44s. Cold Turkey.

And, I think I am fine with that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wash, Cut and Find-a-Man

It had been a couple of months since my return from G Town and the intense heat and humidity of the Torrana summer was playing havoc with my tresses.  After two years of being pampered with a personal hair stylist by way of VBF's mum in law, going out and finding a new hairdresser was just as daunting as looking for a new soul mate.

A referral from my cousin who, has what I will politely call "problematic" hair saw me making an appointment with a salon in Korea town. I figured that any hair dresser who could manage the cousin's mop presentable was worth a shot.

Stepping into the salon, I was met with a chorus of greetings and a line of broadly grinning Korean people. The manager-lady approached me (still grinning) and a little flustered, I shook my hair out of the confining ponytail and blurted, "I need help!" Surveying my tousled locks with a stern eye, manager-lady replied with an emphatic "YES. We help. Lots." and without further ado hustled me into a chair and whipped a cape around my shoulders.

Now before I booked the appointment, I got all sorts of hints and tips from my pals. "Be firm", I had been told. "Let them know that you've done your homework and that you know EXACTLY what you want." And so, I proceeded to describe in great detail my idea of the perfect cut. At the end of my (rather long winded) speech, manager-lady looks me square in the eyes in the mirror and says, "No. That makes you look crap. We do this....." and outlines her plan. Too stunned at her point blank refusal, I could only nod weakly at her ideas.

Like a seasoned pro, she began snipping away all the while keeping up a rapid fire line of questions:
- Where you from?
- What you do?
- Where are your Mummy-Daddy?
- You marry? No? No good.
- WHY you no brush hair??

My feeble attempts at viable responses were translated into Korean for the rest of the room and at each response there would be murmurs of approval (or not!). By the time she translated the final question, the consensus was unanimous and my lack of hair-care skills was loudly discussed with much clicking of the tongues and shaking of the heads.

The whole thing was over in what seemed like mere minutes. Perhaps it was because I had been so intent on answering the questions - and then defending my answers - that I had barely noticed that my hair had been cut, styled and set. And wow, I looked GOOD! Better still, when it came to the payment I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was only $25. Apparently, the life lessons were thrown in for free.

As I thanked manager-lady and bid goodbye to the rest of the salon, her final words followed me out into the street. "Girl, you brush hair.... you find man!"

Sage advice indeed! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Road to Nirvana

Some folk go to spas for rejuvenation. Others walk or listen to a specific genre of music. There are those that go running to calm down (weird, yes?) and for a vast majority a bubble bath will suffice. For me, it is the tranquility of rows and rows of bookshelves that brings calm.

So, after a particularly rough day at work, that's where I found myself this evening - at the bookstore.

I spent a few hours in there wandering the rows and taking in the sheer magnitude of all of the wonderful works around me. And thanks to the generosity of my friends Beer Baron, The Blonde One and her hubby I got to take some new friends home.

For a few hours (at least), I will be able to escape the douche-bag colleagues and meander into the world of words.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

If you know me outside of Blog-land, you'll know that things at work have been trying to say the least. There are a couple of colleagues who have been going out of their way to make life at the office a bit of a nightmare situation. And sadly, their bad behaviour is starting to affect the production of our intern, who reports in to one of the Three Stooges.

Things came to a boil about two weeks ago when I found out that emails going out to external stakeholders weren't being checked for spelling and grammar errors and most of them did not even contain a basic salutation! When I questioned this shoddy approach, one of my colleagues had the gall to tell me that such emails are "industry standard". The cheek!

Earlier today, I'd left instructions for our intern to follow up with a client about a particular matter. Sensing that she'd been the eye of the last storm, she sent me an email asking me to look over the correspondence before it was sent out. Sensible girl.

My reply:
Dear XX,
You might want to attach the update Employer Agreement as the one you have on here reflects the old pricing schedule. As you know, we moved to a new one as of July 1 this year. The new agreement can be found here on the shared drive. Make sure to keep a copy of this new agreement handy. 


Her response:
Thanks Pixy, I'll do that.
Btw, can you look over the body of the email and let me know if that makes sense?

My reply:
Hi XX,
Well, since you asked, you might want to word point #4 a bit differently. See below for suggestions.

Her response:
Will do. Sending out the email. You have been cc'd.

My email to the client:
Dear Mr. Client,
Thank you for your interest.... blah... blah.....

I have attached a copy of our new Employer Agreement. Please disregard the previous one sent over.

Sincerely, etc.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

5 Things I Really Want to Do this Summer

Summer in the T Dot is really quite wonderful. There are street festivals, farmers markets, free outdoor concerts, art events and much more. It really is quite amazing the sheer number of activities one city can pack in, and if anyone ever tells you they are bored.. well.. you know with certainty that they are just not trying!

Over the years of living in the city, I have taken advantage of many of the activities and still have only scratched the surface. This year, there are a couple of events that I am determined to finally experience and here are the top 5.

1. A Dream in High Park: A perennial favourite with Toronto residents, Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night's Dream  is staged each summer in High Park. Tickets are priced at PWYC with performances running from late June - early September. Sitting under the trees and listening to the immortal words of the Bard seem to be the perfect way to spend a Summer's evening. A wee cheeky sip of vino during the performance wouldn't be too bad either!

2. ROM Walks: 12 amazing walks around the downtown core filled with tid bits about history and the evolving culture of the city. And all FREE!

3. Kayaking along the shore: Something I thought I'd get done in Vancouver last year, but unfortunately life hadn't counted on Beer Baron having a torn rotator cuff which effectively put him out of commission for any paddling activities. Checking out the T Dot's iconic skyline from a unique vantage point would certainly be interesting. Too bad I won't be able to take my camera along!

4. Dancing in the street: Salsa on St. Claire, the Beaches Jazz festival and Caribanna. All amazing opportunities to bust a groove out in the open. Just what these hips need!

5. Movie in the Square: Dundas Square hosts classic movie nights. Just like the drive in... minus the cars and noxious fumes. Then again, it is downtown T Dot; Noxious fumes are part of the landscape!

So, this is the plan. Check back at the end of summer for an update on how successful I have been!

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Launch of 5 Things

Judging by my intense blog silence it would seem that I don't have a lot to say. It's not that at all, but writing has deserted me and so short staccato posts will have to take the place of long narrative. Hence, the birth of the "5 Things" series.

To start off, 5 things I feel about the decline of this blog:


Thursday, March 29, 2012


Ducking from the flying debris, I vaulted over a half torn down chain-link fence. My heart was pounding from the manic running and each additional step felt like it would rip my lungs to shreds. But to stop... pause, even was to die. So, I kept running away from the sounds of the battle, away from the threat, towards what I hoped was relative safety.

The bunker was partially destroyed, but I spied an opening and shimmied in just as a tremendous explosion lit up the sky and for an instance it was bright as daylight. The walls trembled, but stood firm. For the next few hours I huddled in the darkness trying to contemplate my next move. Exhausted, I fell asleep.

When I awoke, it was to an eerie silence. While I had slept, the battle had passed over me and moved on. The air was thick with smoke and fumes from fires that still burned on the ground. As I looked out wondering if I should leave, a slight movement caught my eye. Someone... or something was approaching the bunker picking its way through the debris field. I watched in panic as it drew nearer knowing that if it came in here, I was defenceless.

Suddenly the smoke cleared and I got a good look at the figure. My heart leaped in relief; it was Beer Baron! Scrambling out of the shelter, I ran towards him calling his name. He stopped and smiled, then as I ran up besides him he raised his hand. He was holding a gun and the gun was pointed at my head. "No.... it's me...." I said, confused. But there was no friendship in his eyes as he spoke. "If it is really you, tell me.... what would you make sure to have in your house before I came over for a visit?"

"Please....." I whispered.

"TELL ME... or I will kill you. Now."

I didn't know the answer. I didn't know what he wanted to hear.... what would keep me alive. Fear and exhaustion washed over me and at that moment I did not care if I would live or die. I looked up at the face of the person I thought was my friend, and said, "A plunger."

His face broke into a smile and he lowered the gun.

And then, I woke up.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Morning Musings

Mornings are most often my Nemesis. They come creeping out of the dark and calm of the night, steal into my dreams and shake me awake from the comfort of dreamland. Morning commutes are the invention of the devil. Every late bus, surly transit work, annoying fellow commuter and gloomy rainy-day becomes a trial by fire experience. And if this is all pre coffee... well... Guantanamo Bay torture would be preferable.

The commute from the new apartment is trying to change all of this. I might not become a morning person (that would take an act of God), but I sure am liking the entire drag-self-out-of-bed-and-get-hiney-in-to-work process a lot more. 

For starters, the streetcar stop is almost right outside my front door. I climb on and have a wide selection of seats because the line begins just a few stops up from my place. Once my bags and bits have been arranged, and my earphones have been popped in, I settle down to the gaze out the windows at the fun views going past. Over the 40 minute ride into down town, we pass twee shops that are just opening up; shutters being raised and welcome mats shaken. Mummys and Daddies herd packs of children along to schools holding satchels and lunch bags while the kids skip ahead or lag behind in direct relation to their morning temperament and the amount of completed homework. We go past the the morning dog walker out with his/her bestie. Crossing guards wave at the streetcar driver; they've both been on the same beat for a while it would seem.

At the end of the ride, I get off the streetcar just before it makes the loop back on an eastbound route. The driver rings the bell as the last person exits. *Ding Ding* And just like that, my commute is done! 

Friday, March 02, 2012

A New Middle

"To every beginning there is an end. 
Once you accept this, life is simple"
                                                    - Buddha    

Now, if only I can manage to live by this message, life would indeed be simpler (er). But wisdom such as this is much easier quoted rather than followed as I have learned over and over again. Still, having just laid down a wack load of money as a down payment for a new home, it seems like a good time to talk about new beginnings. 

As I look back at the posts I have written over the years, it seems that a great deal of them seem to be about new beginnings, starting anew, refocusing, trying a different path in life. On the one hand that may make it seem like I'm the sort of person who is forever trying new things with the aim to getting the most out of the life experience; on the other, it may just mean that I'm a "Jack of all trades and master of none" kinda gal. The former seems structured and purposeful and something to aspire to, the latter gives rise to thoughts about flighty and non directional behaviour. 

I'd LIKE to thing I keep bouncing around to doing new things because it is a desire to expand my horizons. However, the sad truth is that most often I am forced into new beginnings because of the twists and turns my life has taken and that fact that the path that I was on is either barred or no longer exists. So, I change tracks, adapt, move on, start again. It's not perfect, but it's the only way I know how to keep from getting mired down in the boggy mess that sometimes is my existence. 

If new beginnings are hard, endings are even worse and usually drain me emotionally. I often lose my heart to places and people. This of course makes it rather difficult when it comes the time to move away from said places and people, often with the gut wrenching knowledge that we may never meet again. Ever. Usually, this leads to months and months of post separation patch up where I try to live in the "what is now", but always seem to think of the "what has been". Essentially, I go through the emotional turmoil of a breakup every single time. And no, it does not get easier to deal with the more times it happens! 

Two weeks from now, I will pack up all my worldly goods and move into a new apartment here in the T Dot. MY apartment. And now that all the paperwork has finally been signed, I find that I am deathly afraid; more than when I was leaving for Scotland 2 years ago. But I suppose that's OK because after all, this is the most gown-up of adventures I have ever embarked upon. Also, because this is what is going to be necessary for me if I am ever to get over my love affair with G Town, and fall back into love with this city and continue to live (and thrive) in the now. 

I once heard that, "Beginnings are usually scary, endings are always sad, but the middle, the place where the adventure actually happens is usually quite nice." And right now, I'm looking forward to a whole new middle! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Early Morning Banter

My brand new colleague, who we shall call Skipper, is a very happy person. Even at early o'clock in the mornings when, as anyone who knows me knows is not my finest time o day. 

Today, as I went by her desk to collect my mail, she looked up at me with a big beaming smile and gushed, "Oh don't you just LOVE celebrating VD?" 

To which I replied. " Anyone who owns up to celebrating VD is in my books, a profoundly sick and twisted individual. The same applies for if they're celebrating Valentine's Day, which is perhaps what you are talking about?"

In fairness, she was warned about the pre-coffee me. It was in the orientation package. 
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