The parts they left out of Free Willy

A couple of weeks ago while I was home I decided to watch some Blue Planet. While I was watching, something became glaringly apparent: Killer Whales are the sadistic sociopaths of the sea.

Seriously though, those things are awful. There's a reason why no one calls them "Orcas".

First off, they hunt baby seals. The Killer Whales will hang out near the shore and wait for the seals who are trying to learn how to swim. They will then ride the waves up to the beach, snatch the baby seal, and then drag it out to deeper water.

But that's not the end, oh no.

After that, the pod will throw the still-alive baby seal back and forth using their teeth. They will keep doing this until after it has died, and only then will they actually eat the poor thing. No one knows why they do this, as it doesn't seem to serve any function besides perverse entertainment.

Secondly, they torture Grey Whales.

Female Grey Whales will give birth to their calves in the South, and then migrate with their young to the North for feeding purposes. The baby whales are just learning to swim and tire much more quickly than the adults. What Killer Whale pods will do is follow a mother and baby. They will chase them until the baby is exhausted and has to be lifted to the water's surface by the mother just to breathe. Then, when both mother and baby are vulnerable, they will attack, separating mother from child. Their method of killing the little whale is to push it underwater until it drowns, then rip it apart. This process takes days (possibly weeks), and in the end the Killer Whales only ate the baby Grey Whale's jaw, and left the rest of its body for scavengers.

So next time you're watching Free Willy, reconsider who you want to root for. Think about exactly what Jesse is unleashing on the ocean.


If Chivalry Wasn't Dead Before, It Sure Is Now

You may have noticed it's been a long time since my last post. The short version of the story is that life has been on the quiet side lately and there hasn't been anything worth writing about.

But now that I'm back in Toronto I seem to have found the motivation to write again, and this post in particular is dedicated to my colossal failure of a romantic life. Where to even start? I guess I'll begin with the shinanigans which ultimately led to my total loss of faith in men.

You already know how unlucky I was in Europe when it came to dating. I'm sorry to say that this didn't change when I returned to North America. I had hoped that moving from my small town in BC to Toronto would make dating easier, and for a while it almost seemed to. While at a work party with my cousin in November I happened to be introduced to a friend of her boyfriend's. We got to talking and seemed to really click. Despite having ample opportunity to politely leave, we wound up chatting for most of the night. When it came time for him to go, he said goodbye to his friends and then came back to say goodbye to me.

Due to a hectic work schedule and a badly-timed sickness we didn't see each other over the next two weeks, but then we (my cousin, her boyfriend, myself, and this guy) arranged to meet up for a movie and dinner. We wound up catching a Hitchcock (North by Northwest) at the TIFF Lightbox, which was really excellent. We discovered afterwards that the cinema we were in was the one that has a seat named after me (long story), and he helped me find it and then offered to take a picture. We all went out for dinner after that, and it was really enjoyable. The conversation was great and totally effortless.

When it was time to say goodbye he asked for my number, and about twenty minutes later he texted to say that he had a great time and that he would look into a director I had mentioned so we could discuss it "next time". I took that to mean that he had enjoyed the double-date as much as I had.

That weekend I was off to New York and out of touch. Once I got back I deliberated on whether to get in touch or not, and my sister wound up convincing me that the courteous thing to do was message to say I was back in the country. So, I sent a quick message to say I was back in town.

And then I never heard from him again. Not once. Nothing.

I feel fairly justified in saying "WTF?!" By this point I have accepted that - as my sister so sensitively put it - he just wasn't into me. While this is absolutely a reality in life and I'm no stranger to it, it bothers me that my judgement was so completely off. I'm also annoyed that he asked for my number and sent a misleading text message. What's the goddamn point? It wasn't helping anyone, especially not me.

After that things stayed pretty quiet. The only other guy I was remotely interested in had struck up a relationship just prior to my arrival in Toronto. Talk about lost causes. Then it was back to BC.

The real breaking point for me came right before Valentine's Day. Two days before, to be exact. I had been invited out to dinner in the city by a guy I had met in Germany. We had stayed in touch over the course of my travels, and when I came back to BC (before leaving for Toronto in November) we saw each other again. When I told him I was in BC again he suggested we meet up. And, in case you're wondering, it was very unambiguously a date.

Initially I had doubts about making all the effort to come into the city just for a date. I generally don't feel that it's good to go far out on a limb for someone you're seeing extremely casually. However, in the time I had known him he'd always been exceptionally polite, considerate, and really not at all like an early-twenties guy. So, I decided to go.

We were in touch that day during my trip over (it takes a few hours, including a ferry) and all seemed well. Luckily my sister and her boyfriend were in the city as well, so I killed some time with them during the afternoon. Then, an hour or so before our planned date, he abruptly cancelled. There were plenty of excuses that came along with the cancellation, none of which that were the least bit legitimate. So, I turned around and went home, having wasted an entire day travelling for nothing.

Needless to say, it really sucked. I felt like an idiot for having gone so out of my way for someone who apparently couldn't care less. And right before Valentine's Day too. As far as bad dating stories go, getting stood up around that time of year is pretty awful. Thanks for letting me know I'm totally disposable! I mentioned in an earlier post that my New Years Resolution was to adjust how I think about myself and thereby develop better self-esteem. And until Valentine's Day I was doing really well. It's a tricky process though, and what little progress I made got pretty decimated by my non-date.

So after that I was pretty down. A day or two later I met for coffee with a wonderful friend of mine, and we got to talking about my inability to date successfully. At some point in the conversation internet dating came up - something I've always resisted. I have a lot of friends who are on one site or another (often Plenty of Fish), and they're reviews have been largely positive. I don't really have anything against online dating, but I'm such a believer in meeting in person that it's never appealed to me. My friend did an excellent job of talking it up though. From where I'm standing it has felt as though a primary impediment to meeting guys is that I don't have all that much in common with guys my age. I've already finished school, done my travelling, and started working on my career, and few people I meet share that timeline. I'm sick of dealing with guys who don't know what they want or who are only interested in non-committal hooking up. As an added "bonus", when I meet older guys who I have more in common with they always turn out to be married or in relationships. My friend insisted that going online was the perfect way to circumvent this problem. Besides, what was I so turned off by? Over the last 15-20 years the internet has become accessible and usable for pretty much anyone. My generation in particular has grown up with it. So doesn't it make sense that we would use it to try and navigate the emotional quagmire that is dating?

So I caved. I signed up. I don't like admitting it, but I figure if I don't I'll be missing out on a prime writing opportunity. I concluded that at worst it could be a small confidence boost and some positive reinforcement, even if I never went on any dates.

I didn't go for Plenty of Fish (apparently there are a lot of not-so-great guys on there just looking for hookups) but rather opted for one of the ones you have to pay for. I figure it means at least whoever's on is a little serious about it.

It's been about three weeks since I signed up, and so far it's fairly alright. I've been on three dates, but I don't intend to pursue anything with those guys. They were all perfectly nice, but there was never that crucial spark that made me want to see them again. And being online certainly can be funny. I'm beginning to note certain trends and figure out who to avoid. For example: never bother with any guy who has taken a shirtless photo of himself in a bathroom mirror with his cell phone (this happens more often than you'd care to think); avoid anyone with a cheesy and clich├ęd quote on their profile; spelling/grammar is a quick indicator of eligibility; when a guy has selected only "athletic and toned", "slender", and "about average" for his ideal date's body type it's his way of saying "no fatties". So far I've had one stranger tell me he loves me, and another propose that we get married "ASAP". Never a dull moment.

And then there was today. I mean I knew this would happen sooner or later (because people are horrible), but that didn't make it any nicer. Some guy thought that it was socially appropriate to include in his email to me that my profile write-up sounds like an essay (because of my choice of words) and that I "seem super uptight". He is obviously a mannerless ignorant douchebag, but I haven't been able to brush it off so easily. I mean really. If he finds me so totally unappealing, then why send an email?! This is especially frustrating because it feels like the millionth time that a guy has complained about my vocabulary/intelligence (though usually they don't complain directly to me). Do men really have that much of a problem with someone who is familiar with the English language? Is intelligence such a threat? Why is it a bad thing???!! I guess this is just one more reason to despair for the human race.

If I have any more adventures I'll let you know.


I Tried It: Newsprint Nails

For about a year now there has been a manicure I've been dying to try: the Newsprint manicure. I had seen it here and loved the idea, but it kept getting shuffled back on my agenda. However, today I was home sick so I took the opportunity to try out this fun manicure.

I started (as I always do) with a Seche Base base coat, then two coats of Essie's Sand Tropez. As per the instructions, I then cut up a newspaper and soaked it in rubbing alcohol. This is where things became frustrating. On the first nail things came out pretty well, but after that it was all downhill. Long story short, I wound up spending the majority of my afternoon swearing at my nail polish bottles in frustration. For starters the type wasn't coming off at all on my nails, and I kept having to re-paint fingers because the polish would chip, dent, or warp.

After a while (and a lot of cursing) I gave up and re-painted my nails in simple Sand Tropez. I then waited about two or three hours and gave things another try. Finally, things started to work. In my experience, however, it works better to do it like this:

1. Take your pre-cut piece of newsprint and soak it in rubbing alcohol
2. Soak a large cotton ball in rubbing alcohol
3. Place the newsprint over your nail and secure it with the alcohol covered cotton ball on top.
4. After ten or so seconds, remove.
5. Repeat as necessary.

Now it did get some vague ghosted pattern from the newsprint, but nothing like what I was expecting. I'm guessing this is a manicure you have to try a few times over before it comes out right.

Anyway, in the meantime this is how my manicure finally turned out:

Nothing to brag over.

Anyway, before I leave you I thought I'd include another manicure, something of a belated NYE themed manicure. I used OPI Onyx (or something) on the bottom, followed by Sally Hansen Disco Ball, then Revlon's Belle, and I finished off with Icing's Sparkle Me Happy.


New Year, Old Problems

About a week ago I was doing some preparatory New Years shopping with my sister. As we wandered through the aisles we continued an argument that had been going on for the last four weeks. My sister had planned an elaborate New Years Eve overnight in the city with just under a dozen of her friends, and she desperately wanted me to come along. I, however, was "fence-sitting".

Here's the thing about New Years: every single year it's the same story. It's supposed to be some party-to-end-all-parties; a spectacular fun-tastic experience that will change your life. People plan for weeks, shell out obscene amounts of money, and then.... meh. Every single New Years I've ever had has been nothing more extraordinary than mediocre. There's too much hype surrounding it, so it's a guaranteed disappointment. Not to mention fun cannot be forced. The nights I'll always remember were spontaneous and genuine. So, this year I wasn't feeling the effort. Rather than waste my energy and (recently exhausted) funds I figured I would just pretend it was like any other night and veg out on the couch.

As I was explaining this for the millionth time to my sister, several other reasons occurred to me for why I had no desire to go out. These mostly consisted of how I feel overweight, lethargic, and ghostly pale. Which led me to ask: why on Earth do we still celebrate New Years in January??? Besides it being midwinter and deathly cold, it also happens to be when the majority of the populace is feeling just as I am: fat and pasty. We've all been overeating ourselves into pseudo-hibernation since Thanksgiving, and most of us have Seasonal Affective Disorder from seeing so little sunlight. As much as I'd love to believe that "pale is the new black" (the racist overtones of which I only just recognized) I mostly just don't.

Imagine, for a moment, New Years Eve in August. The night could be spent outdoors in the glorious warmth of summer nights. Having spent the last several months on beaches, in parks, and on mountains everyone would have a healthy summer glow and would be feeling fit and trim. Rather than having to make frustrating and pointless resolutions to frequent the gym and eat better, everyone would already be feeling pretty good and therefore could come up with some more original (and fun!) resolutions that we might actually keep.

Despite a total lack of enthusiasm to go out, I wound up attending since it clearly meant a lot to my sister. It was definitely one of the better New Years, though it had its fair share of shenanigans. I'm sorry to disappoint you all but those will not be included on here. After all, I'd like to maintain some small semblance of professionalism.

Most years I don't make resolutions. They've never worked out too well for me, and they often seem pointless. In that sense this year was just like the others. But tonight I had cause to reconsider.

I had lain in bed for a good two hours trying to sleep without success (totally my fault for ODing on sugar and doing nothing all day). On a whim I started rifling through some of my old journals that happened to be close at hand. Sometimes I like to read them like novels, from start to finish, but tonight I just flipped through, pausing here and there. What I read gave me pause, and I started to consider the last few years. I suppose you could call them tumultuous. My old writing called to my attention some things I think I've swept under the rug, so to speak.

Rather than rewrite all of my teenage angst, I'll get to the point. A couple of weeks (months?) ago I stumbled across this cartoon about depression. At first it caught my attention because it was hilarious, but after reading I also had an uncomfortable awareness that my own thought processes are sometimes alarmingly similar to what the author called "narrating my thoughts and actions with a constant stream of abuse." Since first seeing the cartoon it has stayed with me, causing me to notice whenever I start thinking in these patterns.

Now I'm happy to say I'm not depressed (pardon the pun), but closely identifying with a severely depressed person is kind of a red flag. So, I finally reach my point: this year's resolution is to change the way I think about myself. I have concluded that most of the things troubling me right now will be ameliorated if I can get myself to a happy, confident place. While I have no more than my usual faith in New Years resolutions (that is to say very little) I am going to make an effort to write nice things about myself every day. Instead of wallowing in my shortcomings I am going to celebrate my achievements; instead of dissecting my imperfections I will be grateful for my many blessings. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of having terrible self-esteem.

Hopefully this will inspire one or two of you to do the same: I think we could all use a little more love.


Attack of the Holiday Manicures

Hello all!

What will all the holiday parties recently I've been doing a lot of at-home manicures. They're all on the simpler side since I've had a bit of a time shortage, but I figured I'd share anyway.

First up is my first foray into the "accent nail" idea. I wanted a deep red manicure, but also wanted some glitter to catch attention. I used OPI's "Malaga Wine", then did my ring fingers in "Midnight Kiss" by China Glaze with a coat of OPI's "Bring on the Bling". I was really happy with the result!

My most recent manicure is for a Christmas party tomorrow night. I'll be wearing an inky-black velvet dress with a gold zipper down the front and wanted my nails to play up the gold theme. I also picked up a great gold rose ring and wanted to tie it all together. I'd seen this manicure a few weeks ago, but unfortunately I can't find it anywhere to link to. I started with two coats of "Midnight Kiss", then did two or three coats of Sephora by OPI's "Traffic-Stopper Copper" on just the tips. The photos aren't great quality but the combination of gold and copper turned out really well!

Arch Nemesis

I have a new Arch Nemesis.

I'm not really a "gym" person. For a long time I have professed a violent hatred toward the gym, which (largely) still exists. The gym, as many of you will know, is mainly stocked with two types of people. The first are the 'roided out guys: they spend every evening of the week pumping iron, grunting, and alternating between checking out themselves and checking out other 'roid monsters to make sure they're not being out-lifted. The other type of gym-goer are the super-fit women in tiny spandex: their favourite pastimes include tugging at their too-short shorts and trying to distract the 'roid monsters from their own reflections. Now despite having taken a few classes in gyms I still haven't mastered the subtle art of knowing what the hell to do with myself while there, and thanks to the super judgemental audience I never have the guts to try and figure it out. When you throw in outrageous fees and inconvenient commutes, going to the gym just never makes it onto my priority list.

However, I recently have found it necessary to overcome this distaste for the gym. Every year around this time, I - like most other people - manage to start packing on the holiday weight. While most other years I approach this phenomenon with a kind of depressed resignation, this year I've been trying to make a preemptive strike. For the first time I'm living in a building with a gym, and the fees are already part of my rent so it's basically free to use. While I still barely know what I'm doing, I've managed to work out a cardio routine that I can make it through without embarrassing myself. For the last few weeks this has been going pretty well, and I've succeeded in ignoring everyone else in the gym.

Until today, when I met my Arch Nemesis.

Things started well enough: I came in, set up at reclining cycle or whatever you call that thing, and zoned out to my music while trying to make it through the first half hour of my routine. I vaguely noticed an impractically dressed woman on a treadmill, but for the most part was trying not to sing aloud to The White Panda and Justin Bieber. It was when I went to use a treadmill myself that things started their rapid descent into Nemesis Town. One of the four treadmills is a little older and a little broken. The handles have broken where the heart rate monitor is, so every time you adjust speed or incline you receive a shock: not my favourite. To my delight, there were two available treadmills, though I noticed a towel and a sweatshirt on the not-broken one next to impractically dressed woman (henceforth "gym floozy"). Unsure, I concluded the good treadmill's occupant must have gone to the restroom, so after hesitating for a minute I resigned myself to the shitty treadmill and a half hour of shock treatment.

While running, however, I noticed that no one came to claim their towel. I also couldn't help but notice some more details about gym floozy. I've already mentioned that I'm no gym proficient, but even the greenest novice could see that this woman didn't have a clue what she was doing. Interval training is one thing, but gym floozie was alternating between about thirty seconds of all-out sprinting and five minutes of quick-stepping (nope, it didn't even qualify as speed walking). She would get going so fast, wouldn't be able to sustain her speed, and then would have to hop onto the side rail to slow the treadmill down before continuing. It was probably the most pointless exercise I've ever been witness to.

Now I realize I've done a terrible job of painting a full picture of what gym floozy looks like. For her sprint/walks gym floozy decided to go for one of the smallest outfits of all time. She was sporting itty-bitty high school-style hot pants that I'm pretty sure she stole from Michael Cera in Juno, paired with a spagetti strap tank top that didn't even come close to covering up her (generous) bust. So imagine, if you will, gym floozy at an all-out sprint. Just imagine it.

I wouldn't have been her biggest fan under those circumstances, but could have forgiven the impractical athletic wear and improper equipment use if that was all there was to it. It was the fact that - as I eventually discovered - she had draped her sport jacket and towel on a second treadmill instead of over the rail of her own that really cemented her status as Arch Nemesis. I mean really? Did she REALLY need to take up TWO treadmills for her performance of amateur-hour?! I would have preferred to have my half-hour run without the 20 or so electric shocks.

By the time I made it over the the elliptical for the final half hour of my session I was in a pretty unhappy mood. Still, the sight in front of me was ridiculous under any circumstance. On one of the cycles was what I can only conclude to be a lost hippy. She was middle-aged and had come to exercise in glorified pyjamas that were probably made of hemp. She also seemed to have forgotten a bra of any kind. None of these things were what really caught my attention though. What caught my attention was that she was cycling in wooly socks, with her Birkenstock sandals just to the side of her cycle.

It was at this point that I gave up on life and left.

As for you Arch Nemesis, thanks for the half-hour of shock treatment: see you at the gym, bitch.


New York, New York

Apparently my trip to Europe (and the traveling I did while there) has started something of a trend in my life! For the last month I've been living in Toronto, and last week in a spur-of-the-moment decision my cousin and I decided to accompany my aunt and uncle on a trip to New York City. I have never been to New York, and the last and only time I visited the states was when I was seventeen and briefly stayed in Las Vegas. You can imagine then that I was out of my mind excited to be visiting Manhattan during the Christmas holiday season.

We flew out on Saturday afternoon from a smaller airport on Toronto's waterfront (this was a huge improvement over flying from Pearson), though I laughed when I was selected for "randomized additonnal screening". It essentially consisted of them waving some wand around my hands and telling me I could go. We arrived in Newark (New Jersey) after a short flight, and then it was into a cab and off to Manhattan. My uncle attended grad school at Harvard, so we stayed at the Harvard Club near Fifth Avenue and 44th Street. The Harvard Club is absolutely stunning! All the walls are Harvard scarlet, as well as the soft carpets. It's filled with dark-wood columns and mouldings, as well as old Harvard memorabilia. In addition, everything was decorated for Christmas with boughs of cedar and pine, christmas lights, gold bows, and holly. In one of the dining halls was a huge Christmas tree which must have been at least 25 feet tall and fully decorated. For our first night there we decided to go for dinner at a Greek place, but unfortunately the first choice was too busy. Instead we stumbled across another restaurant called Molyvos that wound up being excellent. They served a particular flaming cheese dish that we all loved. Afterward we drove through the city, including Time Square, Bryant Park (where they hold New York Fashion Week), and we visited Grand Central Station.

The next morning I woke up to I Can't Help Myself (better known as Sugar Pie Honey Bunch) on the radio, sun streaming through the windows, and the overwhelming feeling that it was going to be a great day. I wasn't disappointed. We breakfasted at the Harvard Club, then went on to Fifth Avenue where we visited the Rockefeller Center (including the skating rink and tree) and did some shopping in Saks. After that we headed over to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) to see the large De Kooning exhibit there. I must say, De Kooning is not my favourite. I found his works grotesque, and thought they displayed an alarming degree of misogyny. Some of the work practically radiated evil, which was totally weird. After grabbing lunch my aunt and uncle went to go see the Diego Rivera exhibit while my cousin and I went in search of Van Gogh's Starry Night, one of my favourite paintings. Find it we did, as well as a second Van Gogh that I am now equally in love with. It's called The Olive Trees, and it has me completely enraptured. We also saw some Picasso (not my favourite), and some Henri Rousseau, whose paintings I find slightly hypnotic (and love). After MoMA we were all pretty tired, so we went back to The Harvard Club for a rest before dinner. The Sex and the City Movie (the first one) was on TV, which seemed appropriate given it was my first visit to New York.

By dinner time we were all still tired though, so we decided to go to Kellari Taverna, which is right next to the Club. Kellari serves Greek food, which (once again) was totally incredible. One of New York's major highlights is that there is so much amazing food all around. After dinner it was off to bed in preparation for another busy day.

The next morning we went to the Upper East Side to a cafe called Sant Ambroeus that officially serves the best hot chocolate anywhere. It is a Milanese-style place, and beautifully decorated. After hot chocolate and a croissant, my cousin, aunt and I wandered along Madison Avenue, exploring BCBG, J Crew, and Elie Tahari before heading for lunch at a French restaurant called Le Charlot on Madison Avenue and 69th Street. After lunch we walked through Central Park, then went up to Bergdorf Goodman's to enjoy the windows and have a look at the glamorous merchandise.

One thing I'll add was I noticed something of a Manhattan uniform. Almost every woman carried a Louis Vuitton purse of some sort and wore a plaid Burberry scarf, often with a fur coat. Men all wore suits, and also wore Burberry plaid scarves. At times the sheer concentration of wealth was overwhelming.

After Bergdorf Goodman's we walked over to The Four Seasons and had tea at The Bar, a famous Manhattan watering hole and meeting place for the glamorous and successful. Once tea was concluded it was back to the Harvard Club to shower and change, and then off to Soho to a restaurant called Beauty & Essex. Beauty and Essex was amazing! One enters the restaurant through the back door of a pawn shop, and the restaurant itself is a huge two-level high-ceilinged affair. The wall I was facing was covered in collections of framed lockets. The food was European, and I had a fantastic cale, walnut, apple and goats' cheese salad that reminded me of Europe. Afterward my cousin and I shared a bottomless butterscotch pudding type-thing which was unbelievably good. The music was loud, pumping Rihanna, David Guetta, Usher and other popular club beats, and the crowd was young and fashionable.

Our final engagement for the evening was Ivanka Trump's jewelry store launch in Soho. Dinner had run long so we got there only five minutes before the event's scheduled end, but we went in and had a look. Mostly the crowd seemed to be her older friends and investors, but I stood about a foot away from her for at least five minutes before we decided we were bored and wanted to leave. We did one more tour of the city (my aunt needed photos) before going back to the Harvard Club.

The next morning it was up and off to the airport, though we made a quick stop near the Flat Iron Building at another Milanese coffee place called Eataly for hot chocolate and coffee. Things at the airport were quiet (thank god) but I had a rather unpleasant surprise once we got to security.

You see, Newark's airport has one of those hotly-contested security scanners that has many people upset right now. In case you're not familiar with the issue, the USA has been introducing high-intensity scanners that essentially allow security to see what you look like under your clothes. Not having encountered these on the way into New York I didn't anticipate having to face them on the way out. Furthermore, they had the usual metal detector right there, but for some reason were marching everyone through the privacy-violating contraption. I didn't like it one bit, but I didn't exactly have a choice. On the bright side, Once I was on the other side I had a look at the actual visual the guards see, and it's not what I expected. Contrary to the images floating around the internet, it's a very simple person icon, with a yellow flash anywhere you're wearing metal. Nevertheless, I don't like those machines. If you'd like to read up on the issue you can look at this article, or just type "airport security scanner" into google.

Anyway, overall the trip to New York was exciting and so much fun. I can't believe how much amazing food and how many incredible sights and decorations I got to see! Christmas really is the best time to visit I think, but I hope I'll go back again.