Back when I first started blogging in the mid 2000's people would do these weird quizzes and questionnaires on their Livejournals and Deadjournals and Xangas and Geocities sites
(I'm aging myself, I know)
I'm not sure why we all did these. Maybe because quizzes are fun? Or because it's an easy way to crank out a blog post without saying much of anything at all?
Either way, here's one from a long time ago with answers from today. I found this on an old friend's Livejournal and because I've been in the house forever and am feeling nostalgic for the Northgate movie theatre and big Garden City parking lots and
just walking around, honestly
and thinking about how different things are now.
It's nice to reminisce. Pandemic be damned, let's do this:
1. Ever been offered an engagement ring? Hell yeah, front of all my friends at my 30th birthday
2. Longest friendship? Cenquist or Trimble
3. Last gift you received? An Easter Card from John's Aunt Lemire! She sends us one every year and it's very sweet
4. How many times have you dropped your cell? Too many to count
5. When's the last time you worked out? I rode my bike to the bank the other day and even though it was only 20 minutes each way my body was sooooo sore the next day
6. Thing you spent a lot of money on? Food, and things to make food. Books, too
7. Last food you ate? Slow-cooker carnitas tacos with a mango avocado salsa
8. First thing you notice about the opposite sex? Laugh/smile
9. One favorite song? Hot Dog Stand - Begonia (this version omg)
10. Where do you live? Wolseley, in Winnipeg
11. Cell phone service provider: Rogers
12. Favourite mall store: Uh H&M? The Apple store? I don't go to the mall that often
13. Longest job ever had: Working for my own dang self! I've been self-employed since 2015
14. Do you own a pair of dice? Both the regular and D&D variety
15. Do you prank call people? I was never one of those kids who prank called people let's be honest
16. Last wedding attended? MINE. It was so much fun and it feels like a perfect dream now
17. First friend you'd call if you won the lottery: I wouldn't call anyone about it (weird flex but ok)
18. Last time you attended church: Christmas 2018 when we went to the Timothy Eaton Church with my aunt and uncle and Grandma, and John and I sang with so much GUSTO that the family in the row ahead gave us dirty looks
19. How old are you? 32 (have you ever written down your age and had it shock you like "holy shit this is how old I am already?" because that happened to me just now
20. Biggest lie you have heard? "I am a very stable genius"
21. What do you want to drive? I'm not really "into cars" but a Tesla would be neat
22. Where's your favorite place to eat with friends? Anywhere that isn't in my own house and over Zoom would be great, but Carnivale's all-you-can-eat meat swords and slices of pineapple oare sounding pretty good right now
23. Can you cook? I can! It's a fun hobby
24. What car do you drive? I've never owned a car
25. Favorite plant? I like pothos around the house because they're hardy and lush, but most plants in general besides the Titan arum are ok in my books
26. Last time you cried? A few days ago, probably, I cry easily and often
27. Most disliked food: Durian or tarantula*, or those gross microwave grilled cheeses we got from 7-11 on Koh Tao when were drunk and hungry at midnight
28. Thing you like most about yourself? I like that I'm motivated by being useful and making a positive difference. It gives me a real sense of pride and satisfaction with how I spend my time
29. Thing you dislike most about yourself? I get in circles about things that worry me and I have a hard time not obsessing over things that I can't control, but I'm working on it
30. Longest shift you have worked at a job? 12+ hours back at the old Winnipeg Arena - I saw Godsmack and Aerosmith because I worked the concessions!
31. Favorite movie? Oh this is tough - Pan’s Labyrinth, Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men, Her, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi are some tops, but I have a list that's at least as long as my arm
32. Can you sing? Everyone can sing! I don't have a well-developed range, but I sing a lot these days
33. Last concert? We saw Bedouin Soundclash at The Park Theatre right before everything shut down
34. What are you listening to right now? "Horse and I" by Bat For Lashes
35. What color are your eyes? Aqua/blue
36. Who knows your darkest secret? My therapist
37. Last movie rented? Well this is a quaint question - 2010?
38. Thing you never leave home without? My iPhone
39. What will your epitaph say? "A woman of strong laughs and opinions."
40. Do you like Chinese food? Yup - both the American version, and the authentic, unusual kind
41. What book are you currently reading? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
42. Is your room clean? Yes, but I didn't make the bed today (quarantine life)
43. Laptop or desktop computer? I have both and don't really have a preference
44. Favorite comedian? Tina Fey
45. Do you smoke? Only the Devil's Lettuce
46. Sleep with or without clothes? Without
47. Who sleeps with you every night? My husband (still gives me a thrill to say that)
48. Do long distance relationships work? Sure they can, it depends on the couple and the circumstance
49. How many times have you been pulled over by the police? Once in a buddy's car and I was so scared I nearly peed my pants (he'd accidentally turned right at an intersection where no right turns were allowed)
50. Pancakes or french toast? French toast but I'm probably gonna go make pancakes after finishing this
51. Do you like coffee? Don't most adults?
52. How do you like your eggs? Pretty much any which way, I love eggs
53. Do you believe in astrology? Not really but I think it impacts people's self-image so that interests me, plus it's fun to indulge and be silly sometimes
54. Last person you talked to on the phone? My grandma, for Mother's Day
55. Last person on your missed call list? Kim
56. What was the last text message you received? Katrina just sent me a video of her Animal Crossing world that she's been terra-forming
57. McDonalds or Burger King? McDo all the way down
58. Number of pillows? Our bed only has four but I wish it had WAY MORE - John isn't into it so we compromise
59. What are you wearing right now? Red stretchy jeans and B&W striped tee
60. Pick a lyric, any lyric or song?
Told that bitch I'm sorry though
'Bout my coins like Mario (Mario)
Yeah they call me Cardi B, I run this shit like cardio
"I run this shit like cardio" is one of my favourite expressions
61. What kind of jelly do you like on your PB & J sandwich? Any, I'm a fan of most jams
62. Can you play pool? Not even
63. Do you know how to swim? I mean, I'm not a lifeguard but I can hold it together in the water
64. Favorite ice cream? I recently discovered that I love pistacho which means I'm growing up, but overall I like cookie dough ice cream
65. Do you like maps? Uh I used to look at my dad's old World Atlas if that's what you mean (I was a nerdy kid)
66. Tell me a random fact about yourself? I won the "Most Enthusiasm" Award for my performance as an extra in our Grade 6 production of Little Orphan Annie
67. Are you procrastinating right now? Ugh yeah, I'm supposed to be researching FTUE's (pronounced fatooey) which stands for First Time User Experience and is not very thrilling work
68. Ever attend a theme party? Bitch I throw theme parties
69. What is your favorite season? Summer
70. Last time you laughed at something stupid? Today, at this video
71. What time did you wake up this morning? 7:30 A.M.
72. Best thing about winter? When I can skate from The Forks to my neighbourhood along the River Trail
73. Last time a cop gave you a ticket? Never
74. What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
75. Strangest thing you've ever eaten? I ate tarantula, squid eggs, durian, crickets, and a bunch of other weird stuff in Thailand last year
76. Do you think pirates are cool or overrated? Who are these dummies who think pirates aren't cool?
77. What are you doing this weekend? Gardening, BBQing, and puttering around the house
78. Who's your best friend? I have a few, but I'm closest to John
79. What is the third letter of your name? Y
80. How old are your pets? 7 (Toulouse) and 5 (BJ)
81. What color is your backpack? Mint green
82. Are you sick? Moar like sickening amirite? (also, no, not sick)
83. Book you are interested in reading? Palaces For the People - it's on my list!
84. Is the bathroom open? What kind of question is this?!
85. Favourite smell? That dusty smell when it's raining
86. Your most prize possession? Some photos of me from when I was a little kid - I don't have many
87. Are you smiling? Now I am
88. Do you have on eyeliner? Pffft no, it's the quarantine and I don't have any Zoom calls today
89. Do you miss someone right now? It's more like a general yearning to be among people and feel normal
90. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? Back to Asia in a heartbeat - Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore are all on my list once the idea of international travel or being in airplanes doesn't raise my blood pressure
91. Do you have a Myspace? Oh looooooord this makes me feel old. Not anymore
92. Are you in high school? Ahahaha no, I graduated university back in 2013
93. Do you have a crush? Yeah, and I'm married to him (aww)
94. What is your favorite nickname for yourself? John calls me "Bear" which I really like, and some of my older friends call me "Shaner"
95. What color is your bathing suit? Mustard yellow
96. What's your favorite brand of water? Tap water? I don't drink bottled water
97. Did you go on vacation last month? No because there's a pandemic and we've been social distancing in our house since mid-March
98. Have you ever been on a cruise? No, cruises are a gross industry that shouldn't be allowed to exist
99. Do you have a sister? Finally, yes! I married into three
100. Are you upstairs? No, I'm in my basement office because I'm supposed to be working but I'm putting it off because it's not really exciting work and I'm excited to have a Zoom call with Tineke at 5
Whew! Was that as fun for you as it was for me?
If you do this and post it somewhere, tweet at me and let me know so I can see your answers!
*(Upon further reflection, the durian was worse than the tarantula.)
Yesterday we walked to our local coffee shop to buy beans and stood in a line on the sidewalk out front because only one person can be in the store at a time. Usually you have to walk all the way to the back of the store to pay at the register, but they had everything set up on stools and tables and this little mobile serving station made of wood.
It wasn't perfect but it worked. We got beans and two iced lattes and I never thought I'd be so happy to talk to a friendly face from the neighbourhood. I felt giddy afterwards and thinking about
just how nice and normal it felt
tugs at my heartstrings a full 24 hours later.
We went to Food Fare and it turns out one of the Pandemic Things that I fail at is following the taped arrows on the floor in a grocery store because I spend so much time thinking about what I need and not enough time looking at the ground that I wind up walking down them the "wrong" way and needing to circle back and start over.
But honestly it's not so bad.
Wear yr mask. Smile with your eyes. Say "thank you" to every damn person risking their health and well-being to serve your community.
Yesterday was the last "trip" we'll take into the neighbourhood for at least the next few weeks until we know what community spread is like with eased social restrictions.
Manitoba's cases seem to have plateaued so we're in Phase One of reopening but John and I are spooked by all the tweets and posts about busy patios and parks and too many people lining up outside of stores and not social distancing properly.
I'm sad and worried but trying to have a stiff upper lip about it since we're luckier than most and (hopefully) all another surge in cases locally would mean for us is more time spent hunkering down at home.
I was worried that the minute we eased social distancing guidelines people would go crazy and act a fool and once again the internet confirmed that I was right. It's upsetting to know people are putting each other and their loved ones in danger to stand in a too-crowded line or have a beer on a jam-packed patio
People seem to think they're safe and I hope they're right.But everyone who dies because of the pandemic is someone's somebody and I can't wait until this is over.
spent most of the day in the garden
organizing pots, raking leaves, tilling dirt
drinking beer and listening to The Boss
waving to our neighbour across the street
who came over with his cat the other day.
her name is April
and he brought her over on a leash on his shoulder
until she got too anxious and started crawling up and down his back
cute cat, though.
We spent last night eating pizza
(thanks for the delivery Barnhammer!)
in the sunroom while it rained.
Lots of people were out on their sun rooms and porches, too waving and yelling and saying hello.
Tomorrow we're getting our new BBQ delivered
along with some pegboard and stuff to hang up/organize our tools
and we're gonna BBQ steaks and carrots with red onion and fennel
and wave at our many, many neighbours as they walk by
keeping a safe distance away.
I'm holding up. Barely, sometimes, but mostly together.
There's an order to my days because this is what I'm used to. I've worked from home for six years so I'm not losing track of weekdays or losing my sense of reality like a lot of other people because I don't have a commute to miss or coworkers to miss socializing with.
My office is next to my bedroom.
Podcasts are my commute.
Usually it's me and the cats and the silence of our house and it's glorious. I love working from home.
This is the easy part.
The other easy part is staying busy. Between my agency and my startup I have a never ending list of stuff to do, and because I cope with anxiety by creating structure and routines I'm using this time to focus and build them as much as I can.
We just hit a major milestone with HeyAlfa the other day that's going to blow people away.
I've seen a lot of posts arguing for and against "productivity" during the pandemic and tbh I think that people need to do what they need to do in order to cope.
If that means living in your PJs and eating Funyuns watching Tiger King for the third time then go nuts if that's what's helping you get by.
If you cope with stress by working out and posting yr workout videos to Instagram Live so you can exercise with strangers go nuts, too.
We're all just doing what we can to keep it together right now.
Which brings me to the hard part.
The Hard Part.
the part where nobody wants to write these emails. where nobody wants to deliver this news.
where the weight of being responsible for someone else's livelihood goes from a pressure to a crushing avalanche and even though this is happening through no fault of our own
(they love us, are writing testimonials, have committed to coming back when markets bounce back and things aren't so unstable)
that doesn't make delivering the news any easier. There have been sad nights and stiff drinks and ugly-cries.
Luckily it hasn't been everybody, and strangely enough we're actually closing some new deals so it's not like we're going under, far from it, but things are changing and I miss a few weeks ago when everything felt calm and stable.
(How was that only a few weeks ago?)
In Leonard Cohen's book Beautiful Losers a woman kills herself by hiding in an elevator shaft so she'll be crushed by it and that's what this pandemic feels like
a dark, heavy mass bearing down on us. crushing us slowly.
Sometimes when I listen to the Prime Minister talk or when I hear the nonsense spewing out of Donald Trump's mouth I picture myself lying curled at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The weight of the pandemic pressing cold against my cheek.
The crushing weight of worry makes everything else seem trivial. It's been hard to write. Usually when I sit down to say something lately I've second-guessed myself and thought, who cares?
but earlier today I was talking to a friend about how important it is for us to share our stories during this time, and I realized that I'm acting like a hypocrite
because I haven't really talked about how I'm doing through this publicly, or really with anyone.
and maybe worst of all
I haven't asked you how you're doing.
Two months ago I was boarding a flight to Belize to get married. My worst fears were a sunburn and thunderstorms and whether I'd be hungover for the big day.
Dumb, stupid things, in hindsight.
(But you know how weddings are.)
In late January I was standing in our AirBnB, listening to NPR as we packed up. Reports of Coronavirus spreading. Worrying that it would come to Toronto before John and I could safely catch a flight home.
Just over a year ago we were walking down one of the main streets in street in Old Puket, Thailand. There was an old temple on one side of the street and the other was a line of storefronts spilling onto the sidewalk. One of those stores was a "pet store" of some kind I guess, because all we could see was one lonely dude eating while surrounded on all sides by cages and cages of stinky, squawking pigeons and random animals that aren't allowed as pets in North America.
As we walked by I joked
"that's how you start a pandemic!"
Don't I feel like a real asshole right now.
Just a few weeks ago we were out at Fort Gibraltar drinking beer in fur coats and listening to hip-hop while eating poutine. There were at least a hundred people at that event and we're being told to meet in groups of 50 or less right now. 10 or less if you're in the US.
A few weeks after that I was lugging extra bags of cat food and tins of fish home in case we needed to start social distancing.
That was last Thursday.
We're been at home nonstop since then. Neither of us want to get sick, or risk spreading anything around if we get sick
(I'm worried about carrying the virus and being asymptomatic)
and since we can both work remotely that's what we're doing.
But it's hard to stay cooped up and I miss my friends and I miss my city and I miss all the small businesses I used to frequent and who I know are struggling right now.
(If that's you: I see you. I understand what you're going through.)
As an anxious person it's been a challenge. I've worked a lot because work is easy and gives me a sense of control when I feel powerless, but when I'm not staring at a screen I need to do something with my hands so I clean or cook or scroll Instagram or pet the cat.
Thank goodness for the cats.
It's a weird, strange time and I'm sure good things are coming, but right now all I want to do is stay home and curl up and hide from the world until this passes
which luckily is what we're supposed to do
so maybe I'll figure out a way to make this work.
the province is starting to confirm cases and things are going on lockdown
shows and events are cancelled
the universities and colleges are cancelling classes and moving online
buses are empty which is great because apparently they're cesspools
the lines at the stores are nuts, several aisles long
and businesses are being encouraged to let people work from home.
John's office went remote so he's home and I'm home since this is where I work, and we're cancelling any social plans and not really going outside for the next while.
We stocked up tp and disinfecting wipes just like everyone else
but we went the extra step of buying lots of canned goods and dry goods and freezing extra produce as well
(because you need to eat in order to use all that tp, duh)
and as far as social distancing goes I'm feeling pretty good about it.
I worry about my Grandma, though.
And other people's grandmas.
And even John because he's 39 in a few weeks and apparently this thing takes down people in their 40's now and there's no way I'll risk losing that strange bird if I can help it.
In a few hours I have a Zoom call with the TEDxWinnipeg steering committee to talk about our event in June and whether we'll cancel it.
I'm not 100% sure but I have a feeling that I know how it will go. Who knows.
Everything changes so quickly these days.
It's hard not to be glued to Twitter and the news and all the damn articles and that guy on Joe Rogan and
then there's the debate on Sunday night which you know imma watch
and you know they'll be talking about it in that big, empty studio with no people in it because social distancing
but I'm gonna try and not obsess.
At least we just got a ton of alcohol delivered so if things turn pear-shaped I can drown my sorrows in chocolate porters and box'o wine.
Stay safe and don't forget to wash your hands!
sitting on the couch
cats snoozing on either side of me
gold sun streaming in through the tall, old window
filling the room with a warm glow.
I feel warm
deep breaths in and out
savouring this feeling of
a feeling that sometimes stays away for a long time
but tends to find me again during quiet weekday afternoons like this one.
Afternoons filled with piano, or jazz, or sometimes just silence
silence that used to be deafening
(as a kid I was afraid of silence when I was the only one upstairs in our house
and was afraid as an adult because of the unsettling thoughts that lurked there)
silence that these days offers space for reflection and calm.
I just want to hold onto moments like this one
stretching my fingers and toes and my neck and shoulders
smelling the incense and the fresh cool air from outside
trying to be as present in my own body as possible
because I know these moments are fleeting
moment of calm, moments of happiness
so I'm writing about it here in some feeble attempt to capture it
that isn't anxiety, or worry
or a million other dumb things I obsess and stress over day-to-day
and hang onto this.
Because it's such a nice change.
One of the things about living in a relatively unknown place in the middle of the flat prairies is that stuff like this tends to skip you by or not matter as much
(SARS? What SARS?)
so while places like Calgary are freaking out and swarming Costco's at 10 AM to buy toilet paper in bulk
and events like SXSW and GDC and Facebook's F8 Developers Conference are all being cancelled amid fears that the virus will spread
and stock prices are crashing and the market is slowing
for the most part things here at home feel pretty normal.
Last week I took the bus multiple times every day
on Saturday I spoke on a panel at an event where about 100 people attended
and none of my clients seem all that concerned about the Coronavirus impacting their events and businesses all that much.
Last week we stocked up on cat litter and food and canned goods and Lysol wipes and toilet paper and paper towel and even bottles of water and cans of club soda and
I felt silly, honestly
I remember when people were stocking up during SARS and then that
and that's kinda how this feels.
Like we're preparing for something that might never happen.
A lockdown or a quarantine situation that
like the last pandemic
might just skip over my cold prairie province almost entirely.
But being prepared feels stupid until it isn't.
**I wrote this back on November 19, 2019 and thought "what the heck! Let's publish it."**
Okay, it's only moving up the street to a different location which doesn't seem like such a big deal
until you walk into the current Toad in the Hole Pub location and realize that there's no way to re-create the
of drinking here.
It looks like an old English pub and it's split between two levels. There are big, worn-out booths and beaten wooden chairs and what I've always suspected is a church pew along the front window that faces the street.
It's dingy and yellow, with green walls covered in wood panelling that looks dusty and sweaty at the same time; the result of hundreds (maybe thousands) of handprints and sweat and cigarette smoke from back when they allowed smoking indoors.
I love this dumpy old pub.
I've been coming here since I was 18, and had decided well before my eighteenth birthday that one of the first things I would do "when I was old enough" was start hanging out at The Toad.
I'd walk by when I was underage and stare at the people with tattoos, drinking hard alcohol out of small glass cups, smoking, hanging around a pub situated on top of a venue called The Cavern, and a bunch of tattoo parlours.
It was exactly the opposite of the boring, cookie-cutter neighbourhood I'd grown up in and I became obsessed with it.
When I finally moved downtown and was living in The Roslyn up the street I'd walk home from work, have a shower, and park myself at The Toad on one of the long wooden benches that overlook Osborne Street with a beer in my hand.
I hated sitting alone. It made me feel anxious, and I worried that the people around me would judge me for sitting by myself. But, inevitably, someone I knew would walk or skateboard by and stop to have a drink on the patio with me.
Because that's what happens when you sit outside at The Toad.
And if nobody showed up and you wound up having a beer alone?
That was okay too, because nobody gave a shit.
(In reality, nobody anywhere cares.
I know this now, but didn't then.)
Back then they only had one bathroom for women, and during the summer or late on a Friday or Saturday night you might as well have given up and peed outside instead of waiting in the line to use the single-stall women's bathroom
(or do what I did and go for a slice at Lil Pizza Heaven next door and use their bathroom while you wait.)
I've spent hours here in various states of inebriation. Last spring John and I hung out here after we went for a fancy anniversary dinner at Sous Sol up the street and met a man who ran a dog grooming business
(or was selling it, I forget)
and a magician who did tricks for us for free.
I haven't lived in The Village for the better part of a decade and I don't go to The Toad as often as I used to. It's just not as close as The Good Will or Handsome Daughter or even The Grove.
So I don't go here much anymore. But I'm trying to lately.
I want to soak up as much of this dingy, familiar, comforting
atmosphere before it's gone.
Which, honestly, is never something I'd thought I'd have to say about somewhere like The Toad.
It's the kind of place your parents know, and because they know it and you know it you kinda expected that it would always be there. It's the kind of place you take for granted until it's gone.
But I'm here now, drinking a shitty beer that cost $3.25 for old time's sake. Basking under the greasy light of the Victorian-style lamplight fixtures hanging over me and hammering away at my laptop while sitting on that big church pew seat I talked about above.
The only other patron is an old dude with a huge white beard who hasn't taken his jacket off and is drumming along to the El Michels Affair blasting on the speakers at an alarming pace.
It's 3:37 PM on a Tuesday and the bartenders are doing shots with their friends.
I'm going to miss this place when it's moved and the space gets subdivided into a bunch of smaller units and and leased to franchises like Jugo Juices and gyms.
Nothing stays the same, kids.
So cheers to The Toad in The Hole Pub, a Winnipeg staple for so many
and to the memories made
(and sometimes not remembered)