Archive | August, 2011

i’m so happy for you.

29 Aug

so the last week or so has seen me taking a break from india.  not an official break mind you, although i’ve been close a few times.  this small moment away is really for your sake because you’re about to get a shit-storm of indian updates when the husband gets here in just five days. five days bitches!

for now, we move on to other things.

i grew up – let’s be honest here – in a bit of a showy suburban community. and because i’m a product of my environment, i am always  keen to learn tidbits of gossip about the individuals who speckled my youth.

i recently heard, by somewhat shady means, that this uppity chick i grew up with got engaged. so, as you do,  i laughed to myself and thought “wow, wonder what her fo’ shiz tacky 2 bajillion dollar engagement ring looks like.  what is she, a kardashian? pfffft.”

my awesome insult aside,  i quickly forgot about her and moved on to more important things. things like chardonnay.

but a few days later the i noticed that she popped back into my head – despite me screaming “get out, out, out” in lady macbeth styles.  clearly, the fact that she – of all people – had found someone to actually marry her was causing subconscious distress.

setting the scene for a scooch, this girl was the holier-than-thou kind: she was loaded, pretty and smart. if she’d been a genuinely nice person, accepting her winning-the-lottery-of-life wouldn’t have been so bad. but she wasn’t – she was a total bitch.

yet, everyone, including me, still held her up as their own personal benchmark of coolness. as it often goes with the ones we love to hate.

i knew her for almost 15 years. so this got me thinking, could she really have changed so much that i actually believed that she could be humble and selfless enough to be someone’s wife?

now that was a thinker.

so last night as i listened to a little marvin gaye and got to pondering this whole idea of character changes – one of my exes popped into my mind.

this guy was quite possibly the living, breathing anti-christ. a liar and a cheater in the most flamboyantly creative of ways, i am convinced he is probably the worst person i have ever met to date.

but dudes, about six months ago, someone actually married this guy!

i mean, we were together a while, so i saw first hand what a terrible human being he was. (and yes, i realize this opens up a series of questions about me, but not now – jeez!)  how much could the anti-christ ex really have changed in the five or six years since we split up that he went from being a potential maniac to someone’s life partner?

come on now.

i frequently and  fully own the fact that i’ve been a real cough, see-you-next-tuesday, cough to certain individuals. these select people, when they learned that i got married through the suburban network of secrets and lies, probably wondered “who the hell would marry her? no seriously, who?”

and the truth is, i can’t blame them.

the moment i met the husband something clicked: i just wanted to be more than i was. i saw how good he was to his friends to his family to everyone he ever met and i knew i needed to unlock that part of my heart that was better – more than it was bitchy.

and thus began my real self. the real improved one, anyway.

so as much as i’d like to accept that the pretentious super skank and the psycho ex are still the same awful people they used to be, i have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

maybe now they’re tricked out versions of their former selves, more empathetic, grounded and sane, because of the love of a good man or woman. maybe because of this, they will make wonderful spouses.

and if that is so, then i am really-and-truly happy for them. well…89.54% happy, 10.46% insult-hurling.

so here’s to love. all consuming, life-changing, personality changing love. i hope these jokers have found it.

 

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the things we tell ourselves.

26 Aug

the moment i met the husband – in addition to thinking he was using pizza to get into my pants – i pretty much knew that he was for me.

(what can i say – the heart wants what it wants. and it wanted pizza, evidently.)

so after just 3 months of dating, when i made a big move to both be closer to him and get a better job, we had the hilarious task of sorting out our living arrangements and our oh-so-serious feelings.

would we move in together after just a short period of time as a couple – or would we bear the cost of two apartments? decisions , decisions.

well, even after a lot of casual side glances at each other and drunken professions of love (as you do), we decided to just find a place for me – he would continue living at his parents.  while there was no denying we were smitten, we weren’t ready to profess it to the world in the form of a shared apartment.

i mean, what would people say after all? my stars!

so we found the most perfectly perfect 1 bedroom place in an old converted century home for “me” to live in. the curved walls, warm paint colors and creeky floors were charming, and exactly what i’d hoped for.

except a funny thing happened on the way to not living together: we kinda started living together. despite the official party line being he was living at his parents, not-a-one night was spent apart in that small little pad. we cooked, ate, cleaned and cohabited as one – all in the name of living separately of course.

well, it took about 4 months of this fairly ridiculous charade before we finally threw our hands up, moved all of his shit over and started calling it “our” place.

after the admitted co-habitation.

it’s funny now looking back because i realize that while we both wanted to live together, we weren’t ready to face it.

so instead we put on a little show. we kept quietly saying stupid stuff like “oh you’re just staying over here a lot” and “your stuff is still at your parents so it’s not like you live here or anything!” to feel alright about what we really knew was going on.

these are the things we told ourselves. they may have been ridiculous lies that were fooling no one,  but they are what helped us get up each morning, put on our pantaloons and march firmly into the world feeling comfortable and calm. (tipping our tiny top hats along the way, of course.)

it’s not much different here in india. i often tell myself  what i need to hear  to live in a state of bliss (where the chilled chardonnay and sour cream n’ onion chips roam free), even if it’s just for a few moments.

and you know what – i’m totally 100% ok with this deal. india or no india – this is the way in which we sometimes face the un-face-able – no matter how big or small.

now when i tell people our story, they are still a little shocked by the fact that we actually moved in together after just 3 months.  so i always follow our beginnings, with:

“hey, you think that’s crazy – we got engaged, bought a house and got married within 6 months! and then i moved to india! that’s right, bitches!”

a good old fashioned bitch-fest.

19 Aug

true story.

so for me, the last three years have been one big  never-ending job hunt. while others have been climbing the corporate ladder,  i have been traipsing around from one thing to the next trying to build up a professional focus in economic development.

and alright, it’s going ok.  i have this gig  in india, i’m finally experiencing field-level microfinance operations and i am broadening my understanding of humankind. blah blah blah.

overall, i guess this crazy fellowship is removing some of the barriers to better economic development job opportunities.

despite what i am reaping from this year, it’s time once again to renew the perpetual job hunt in anticipation of my return home in six months.  so, over the last week i have been prowling the job boards looking for neat opportunities and exploring the qualifications.

all good in the hood right?

or not. holy f*&kballs – what i have sadly discovered with this new round of job hunting is that apparently a masters degree is the new bachelors degree! what a simply stellar turn of events!

not only did i have to spend a year away in the merde (that’s french for shit –god  i’m so fancy) to get a decent job at my current professional level,  i now have to go back to school for an mba or some other ridiculous business masters?

pretty sure that’s total crap.

because i can literally see some of your heads exploding (cough, hannah, cough), i will say that i see the value in higher education – obviously. actually, i hope to one day get an advanced degree.

but to have it so viciously imposed on me for non-executive, non-specialist roles is beyond annoying. i just honestly don’t buy it  that a masters is needed to realize success in these roles.

i am starting to think that this push for higher education qualifications is a conspiracy to get us to spend more money on degrees.

actually, right now i”m trying to work out the economics of how this would benefit the world’s rich – as the best conspiracies do – but a chorus line of dancing ferrel cats just plowed through my train of thought. and i’m now envisioning them in tiny little cabaret outfits. ohmygodyouguys they’re so cute. do do dah do do, heel toe, heel toe.

um, where was i?

ok while my conspiracy theory may be lacking real proof, the point is that i would just much rather pursue an advanced degree when i’m ready to sharpen my skills in an area i’m passionate about – and not just to satisfy a recruiter.

in the words of liz lemon: blerg.

the logic of fish and fear.

18 Aug

there are several things in this world that make me…for lack of a better phrase…highly suspicious. the first of these things are butterflies. the second are birds. and the third, oh the third, are fish.

while it is primarily by coincidence that these are all living things, my guess is it is not coincidental that each of these creatures has one unifying characteristic: unpredictability.

butterflies constantly flutter around getting all up in your business, birds can attack literally at any moment and fish – well for god sakes – they just slink around in a slimy state acting as if they own the joint. those bastards.

well, despite weeks of protest, the husband is about to embark on a 4 day fishing trip in northern bc where his primary goal will be to interact with most, if not all of the above. most terrifyingly of which are fish. more specifically, salmon.

have you ever actually seen a salmon? if not, well enjoy this visual feast:

evil bastards

they are really f*&king ugly! and what’s worse is that i’m almost positive they are the al capone’s of the ocean – ruling the seas with an iron fist (fish) looking for unsuspecting victims to maul.

this hardcore scientific reasoning is why i am completely and utterly beyond panicked about husband’s fishing trip.

i’m seriously not kidding when i say that for the last week i have been having these insane visions of le husband falling off a boat into seriously deep waters, freezing to death and/or being carried away by a band of salmon. which sounds sorta like fun, until you factor in their innate evil-dom.

was i scared about getting married? nope. moving 12,952 km away to india? nah. walking around seriously putrid kolkata slums day in and day out? come on now.

but am i – no joke – terrified for my husband’s safety as he takes those tiny putt-putt planes to no-cell reception no-internet northern bc to taunt salmon for 4 days. and narwhals. but don’t even get me started on narwhals.

so the things we fear are sometimes idiotic, but does that make them any less valid? probably not.

this being the case, today  – like many days come to think of it – i thank god for chilled chardonnay.

what the what?

an auspicious occasion.

16 Aug

there really weren’t many things that i had on my indian bucket list for the year. this is probably because, as you may recall, i put about 2 seconds of pre-thinking into this whole india thing before i actually stepped foot on the airplane. so it goes.

but poor planning aside, i did know that all i really wanted was to attend an indian marriage in some shape or form.

well kittens, tonight i am proud to say that item 1 of 1 on my bucket list is now accomplished! so i guess i can come home now. not.

don’t be mad, you little vipers, but i have been keeping the deep dark wedding invite a secret from you now for few weeks. just for fun, really. my colleague went around the office at the end of july handing out the invites and spreading the news of his impending nuptials.

it was all a very dropping-off-valentines-into-shoeboxes-circa-grade-3 kinda thing.

so fancy

an invite

and while i have been looking forward to the wedding, i have been super stressed about the dress code. so i sought outfit advice from the wonderful brenna d. and ended up pulling together this little number yesterday.

long chemise + leggings (typical style here) and VERY blinggy earrings borrowed from a friend

although i was invited to the full marriage, i only attended the reception with the rest of my co-workers. it was held at the groom’s home and everything was done up pretty intensely: layers of cloth in red and gold, exotic-seeming flowers and about a bajillion sparkles. man, indians love them some bling.

overall, it was a quiet affair. everyone was sitting around talking calmly and eating – definitely no ‘don’t stop beleiving’ sing-a-longs breaking out at this wedding. not that i was really waiting around for one. ahem.

the bride was quite done up, as i guess the bride usually is. basically she was sitting on the top floor of the house in a big ol fancy chair wearing garlands, layers of rich fabric, head dresses and tons of jewelry. frankly, she looked like a christmas ornament – but totally don’t tell her i said that m’kay?

the bride was just kind of awkwardly receiving guests, while the groom ran around greeting people and making sure everyone was pleased with the spread.

kindly taking a bit of a detour here, i will tell you that as i’ve poked around the issue of marriage celebrations with a few bengali friends, i’ve heard  many say that while they hate the meaning of the wedding rituals, they love the tradition of it all.

in other words, they fully get the wildly sexist undertones (such as making the bride sit around like an inanimate object, the least of the examples really) but still they find comfort in them as a rite of passage.  i can totally understand this mentality: being stuck somewhere between the past and present as we all are really.

anyway, let’s put a pin in all that talk for now.

so, after admiring the bride we all went to eat. bengalis are literally all food, all the time so there was a 10 course feast of fish, mutton, more fish and tons of desserts.

i haven’t mentioned this as of yet but im a practicing select-a-tarianism here – meaning i very very rarely eat any meat.  gross cuts, gross preparation, gross bird murder – end scene.

and well, because i’m delightfully anaphylactic with fish, it really bums the bengalis out when i attend their dinner parties. they fret and freak out over my eating habits and it’s generally very tiresome for everyone involved.

(tiresome in particular tonight for me because i was video-taped whilst eating the food with my hands in the traditional bengali style.  sigh, i guess it’s  a strange deal to have the tall blonde canadian girl at a wedding, so i tried to keep my cool with their crazy antics. but thanks to my newfound temper, this wasn’t easy.)

after seeing the christmas-bride, complimenting the house/food/dress to the groom and eating tons of grub – that was it. we went home.

generally, everyone was happy, warm and really welcoming at the marriage reception. small annoyances aside, it was nice to be a part of this special time in my colleague’s life.

that being said, i’m glad i didn’t attend the other days (yes, days) of the marriage. i feel satisfied that after tonight i have a good sense of what the full monty would be like: hopeful, beautiful and undoubtably exhausting.

in the end, i think the word auspicious about sums er right up.

thumbs up for bucket lists.

your secret identities.

11 Aug

you know, blogging is kinda weird.

basically being a blogger means you push your heart and soul out into a public forum, only to be found, analyzed and probably severely mocked by your worst enemies. ok, and maybe a few others too.

(um, so more importantly, in my version of these events my enemies are smoking menthol cigarettes out of those cruella de ville cigarette holder thingys, drinking amaretto sours and wearing fur hats. what? i’m pretty sure this is the truth.)

i am perpetually curious, so i’m always wondering who is actually reading this crazy never-ending teenage telephone conversation. but because i can never truly know, i often just tell myself that other than maximus and the diabolical dog (he can totally read), not a lot of other people really care about these goings-on.

but it seems i was a scooch wrong. i mean, lord knows i’m no oprah, but it’s been nice to learn as of late that i do have a pack of friends along for this ride. having you reveal yourselves, kind readers, has been a treat.

but more than just your identities, it’s a pleasure to know that despite my ridiculous stories, endless swear words and habit of accusing 1.2 billion people of asshole-dom, you keep coming back for more.

(by the way – totally ask yourself what this says about you. god, you’re so weird.)

i’m officially 120 days in now, and while it may not seem like it, this post is all just to say thanks. thanks to those of you who i now know are with me, and thanks to those of you who have yet to show yourselves.

in closing, because they inspired this post by revealing their kind readership, and because i did spend their june wedding day mostly moping for lack of not-being-there-ness, i should say congrats to the fav family brother and sister-in-law. you are loved.

happy to be able to share this with you - what a beautiful couple!

 

the arrival of an infamous box.

10 Aug

the favorite family is so-called for many reasons: some of them do things like make the babe who calls me auntie al and create perfectly perfect wedding dresses.  others teach me the value of appropriately timed ‘friends’ quotes for almost any social situation – a skill i take seriously.

but more than anything, the favorite family is favorite because when they’re around i know that, no matter what happens, i will never be alone. it’s kinda like a never-ending hug.

so you can understand my excitement when i learned that they were sending a box – a box of love, if you will – all the way to india! (lord knows i love to stock-pile me some love – and chardonnay – for the crappiest of days here.)

but after successfully leaving canada the box-o-love went POOF and disappeared.

panic ensued.  hair was frantically pulled out. a few tears were shed. dramatic scenes took place with postal workers named wendy. (man, poor wendy)

but then something strange happened. just as curiously as the box vanished, today it showed at my apartment! sure, it was mostly bottomless and looked as if a ferret had rifled through the contents seeking out tiny top hats for an all-ferret production of ‘chicago’, but it was here – and that was all that mattered.

wowsers! the fav fam certainly delivered on their promise of love in a box.

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so tonight i spent the whole evening casually rearranging my new tokens and singing along to adele. it was beyond stellar.

i can almost 100% guarantee that thanks to the love box, this weekend i will be dancing around my apartment  wearing a canada t-shirt and an eye-sleep-cover thing whilst drinking chilled chardy and licking what was a bag of chocolate chips and is now just one giant chip. thank you heat.

so with that mental picture in mind, consider your mission accomplished fav fam. xo

the things that change us.

8 Aug

when i first interviewed for the fellowship in india everyone was all up in a huff-a-duff because i was about to get married. oddly, they seemed to accept that i was qualified for the job (which was mostly untrue), but could not understand that i was 2 seconds away from being someone’s wife.

the guy interviewing me said the following:

“there are two times in my life that i have significantly changed. the first was my freshman year of college and the second was my initial year in india. how will you deal with this as a couple?”

what-ever.

so apparently 2 past fellows who were married ended up divorced after spending the year apart from their respective spouses. fine, that’s sad stuff – but is that any reason to be all wackadoo and newlywedist? (kinda like racist…but for newlyweds. no? not good?)

sigh. despite how crazy i think it is that this fellowship could break up anyone’s marriage – the interview-guy’s words do subconsiously stick with me.

i often find myself wondering – how am i changing with each day that passes? am i changing so much that the husband won’t even recognize me? or worse, that the dog won’t recognize me? ohmysweetlord.

but i guess if i objectively float outside my body like a really attractive ghost, i can see that i am changing. just a smidge.

i am learning to just go with the flow. (“oh – is that a giant disgusting puddle that i must walk through – oh – did my sandal just break and now i have to go through it shoe-less? so it goes i guess. onward!”) it’s either go with the flow or cry 23 out of 24 hours. and that seems like a lot of work.

i am getting better at relinquishing control – although it is an ongoing challenge. (may i casually remind you of my month-long fight with india. ahem.)  despite my struggles, i have given up trying to have a mind-blowing impact on my company.  instead, i am just trying to make a few modest – yet still important -improvements that might help in future.

i’m also learning that i have a temper. literally kittens, i had to give myself a time out today because i was totally going to punch several faces after a shit-ton of idiocy ensued.  it was a real-live ‘supernanny’ time out too – one minute for each year of my age. that’s 27.5 minutes on the balcony watching cows eat grass. praise be to ‘supernanny’.

finally, i feel like i am truly internalizing – perhaps for the first time – the most important things in life: family, good friends and of course the diabolical dog. at the end of the day, these characters are really all that matters. (nachos excluded, of course.)

so yeah, there is likely some validity to the interview-guy’s cryptic speech on life change – india or no india.  but guess in the end it’s all about how we choose to change.

will you do it by fighting to bring those you love along for the ride, or will you just slowly become a person who kinda resembles this other dude who everyone used to know.

i’m opting for the former, mainly cause i like a good ‘ol fashioned challenge.

here for no other reason than i wish i lived inside it a little bit.

nothing that you are.

3 Aug

when i was about 13 i wrote a letter to my 30-year-old self that went something like this:

dear 30 year old al,

hey, how’s the future? well all’s good here i’m just kicking it in 1996 at my best friend trish’s* house and we’re totes planning what our lives are going to be like. she wants to be a dinosaur expert and marry ray* and live in australia.

as for me, i want to be an advertising executive, marry greg mcdaniels* and live in a 4 bedroom house with a terrier named irish.

so self, i hope that no matter where you are that you will find this letter one day and it will help you stay true to what you once really wanted.

love, al

*names have been changed to protect the guilty. and also because it’s fun to make up fake names for real a-hole people and talk about them  publicly. hey, just saying.

although i don’t have the letter in front of me, i give you a money-back guarantee that this is almost exactly what it contained – save a few details about being best friends for life with trish and wearing our broken heart be/fri  and st/ends necklaces to the grave. classic stuff.

bff 4 life. not.

so fast forward just 5 short years later my lost 18 year-old-self wrote yet another letter to future al.

this time it was an attempt to capture myself at 18 – because apparently i going through some kind of crisis like the plot of the 1991 movie “hook” where figured i’d grow up, become a yuppie jerk and forget how important it is to follow your dreams. or something.

i found this second letter shortly before leaving for india as i was rifling around looking for my travel neck pillow. i opened the letter, laughed hysterically, cried a little (both ironically and seriously) at how ridiculous i was and then 3-pointered it back into the box.

(i then watched the diabolical dog do a jaunty tap dance routine to “i got rhythm” for about 12 minutes. but that’s a whole other post.)

anyway, what made me think of these letters is our only-human propensity to sometimes be  so “in it” we can’t see “past it”.

ok sure, in my examples i was just a stupid angsty kid, but the phenomenon itself can be applied to about a bajillion (real number) things in this life: break ups, jobs, friendships, family, and yes, even moves around the world to countries comprised mostly of mud and spice.

something sneaky happens when we are blindly passionate, scared or committed – our rational thinking takes an indefinite caribbean vacay and we’re left romping around lost in the cold with no snowsuit having to pee.

basically, we lose our ability to see what really matters through all the other crap.

and really, the only way to find our way home, so to speak, is to surround ourselves with honest and hilarious people.  sometimes we all just need to be told to buck up, get our shit together and focus on the big goal. all in a way that doesn’t make us want to put our heads in the oven.

as evidenced by the above anecdotes, i could have probably used a few of those good people in my life over the years. but now, as i quietly and carefully “approach 30” (it’s not real if it’s in air quotes), i have several wonderful people helping me stay focused on what really matters.

and more than this, i’ve learned how to be one of these voices-of-sanity for others. most days, that is.

i didn’t become an advertising executive (do they even exist) and i didn’t marry greg mcdaniels, (he was always kind of a douche anyway) and i will never punish a dog with the name “irish”. so i guess, in the end, i am nothing like the person my younger self had so desperately hoped i would be.

but then again, what did she know?

he’s a good egg.

2 Aug

i have no idea what the phase ‘a good egg’ really means or where it originates from, but in my almost-asleep-dom i think it refers to someone or something being kind of awesome.

so tonight as i fall into my advil cold and flu slumber, (because apparently food poisoning has morphed into a cold? yeah, i said what the f*&k too.) i am using it to describe my husband.

because man, he’s a good egg.

i really won’t regale you with all the exact reasons, because there are lots and that could get boring really fast for everyone involved, but basically today he said all the right things at all the right moments – and i just really appreciated that.

(appreciated it in general, yes, but also appreciated it more specifically because my day consisted of breaking down in uncontrollable tears-o-rage in a hospital parking lot during a rainstorm. a story for another time, perhaps? then again, maybe not.)

whether it’s listening as i gab about my coworkers, the people who are disappointing, the people who are uplifting, the ever-plotting diabolical dog or our high maintenance house – he just mixes a mean cocktail of 1 part support, 1 part humor and 1 part love.

so as i literally drift off i am, more than anything, just really grateful for him today. as my friend and my more-than-a-friend.

(cause forget all the marriage crap, what’s obviously most important is that he’s totally dreamy.)

‘night bitches!