Tag Archives: coffee

I Need a Plan

I’ve never been much of a planner. I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you that. After all, you’ve been reading about the life of a shallow person for many, many years now and, as such, I’m pretty sure you have some idea of how this little brain of mine works. What you may find a tad ironic is that I spent a good deal of my working life as a career planning counselor helping others figure out what they wanted to do when they grew up. But I suppose it’s not that unusual. You can liken it to the carpenter who never has time to build her own deck. Or fix the hole in the wall. Or finish the doghouse she promised to her pooch when she picked him up from his foster home. You get my drift. There are things you can do well for others that you never do for yourself. And for me, planning my life was one of those things.

It’s not that I don’t plan anything. Oh contraire! There are a plethora of things that I plan for. Like vacations. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m really good at planning vacations. There’s never anything spontaneous when I hit the road. By the time I’m done with that planning  I’ll know exactly where I’ll rest my head each and every night. Not only that. I’ll be able to tell you my estimated time of arrival, give or take a minute or two depending on traffic and road conditions along the way. I’ll have gotten the best possible price on the best possible hotel in the vicinity and likely know where I’ll be satiating my hunger that evening. The last thing I want is to end up sleeping in my car on the side of the Trans Canada highway somewhere between Princeton and Vancouver, in the pouring rain, because there are no vacancies due to an obscure peach (or other kind of fruit) festival being held, of all the silly times, on a long week-end in August. I mean who wants that to happen…again. So I plan my vacations.

To tell you the truth, I’m not too shabby on the financial front either. Not that it has made me rich beyond my wildest dreams. But I’m doing all right. Sure I’ve made some mistakes but nothing that has proved to be catastrophic. As it is, I have a lovely roof over my head, food on the table, jeans in my closet and enough left over at the end of the month to take one of those well planned road trips. All of which I am truly grateful for.  And while there may have been some luck involved, for the most part, it was planning that made it happen. Which probably leaves you wondering, why all the fuss and bother about not being a planner? Because on the surface it would appear that everything is hunky-dory. The important stuff has been worked out and as to the rest, well maybe I should just let the chips fall where they may. Of course, you’d be right. Except for one thing. You see, in the very next little while I will be retiring from my current job. And if I have to be honest with you (as I always am) that’s something I really haven’t planned for.

Don’t get me wrong. Like most, I’m looking forward to this new stage of my life. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed working. The truth is, I’ve always loved my jobs and the people I’ve had the privilege to work with. At least most of them. Which could be the reason I face this next adventure (as some would have me call it) with more than a little trepidation. You see, I’ve been racking my brain as to what I am going to do with all of the excess time I will find myself in the midst of. Yes, I know. Friends of mine who are retired tell me they are busier now than they ever were when they were working. Over and over I hear them exclaim “I don’t know how I ever had time for my job!” I can tell you how. They paid you to be there, so you were there.

The truth is, I have had no shortage of suggestions made to me. There’s volunteer work to be done (isn’t that just a job you don’t get paid for?), lunches to be had, books to be read, places to go, dishes to be washed. I get it. There’s lots to do when you retire. The question is, exactly what is it that I will do? I suppose I could say I will spend more time meeting my friends at  the local Starbucks but that just doesn’t seem to cut it. Not that I don’t want to see my friends, or spend my excess cash drinking fancy coffees. The thing about going for coffee is that it only works when you are taking a break from “something”, not from “nothing”. Some people have suggested that my new found freedom will provide me with much more time to spend writing this blog. I’m guessing they are mostly people who don’t read it.

So there you have it. Even for a shallow gal, the prospect of an uncertain future seems somewhat daunting. Sure. Over the next little while I figure something will come up that I can latch on to. I’ll take a class or two and see what happens. Do some sightseeing around this Island of ours. Reconnect with friends I haven’t seen for a while. But in the meantime, if anyone happens to know the name of a good career planning counselor, this would be a great time to pass that on to me.

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Fit to a Tee

t-shirtsNot so long ago I arranged to have coffee with a dear old friend of mine at the local chain establishment that has become so prolific in the last few decades. I’m sure you know by now there’s nothing new or startling about that, which is why, when he strode towards me in his rather prominent Che Guevara tee, I took some notice. Mostly because I had never thought of this dear old friend of mine as someone who subscribed to the revolutionary thinking of the fella portrayed on the shirt. With my curiosity peaked, and resisting the temptation to raise a fist in solidarity, I had to ask what precipitated this rather surprising and, from my perspective anyway, newfound allegiance. Without hesitation, but with a detectable twinkle in his eye he replied, “It was on sale at the Bay”.  Which, as is apt to happen, got me thinking about “tees” and why people wear them.

You see, I like Tees. For a whole bunch of reasons but primarily because they make it so easy to get dressed each and every morning. I mean what’s to think about? Want to show off the tan? Pick white. Feeling a little plump? Black will take care of that. Add some jeans and you’re done. Simple. What’s not to like? But lately I’ve been thinking more and more about the real value of wearing a tee. Not in my own case, which as you can see, is fairly straightforward. But for other people. Because, from where I sit, other people seem to have a more complex relationship with their tees than I do. And it’s all more telling than you might think.

It seems to me that tees are, for some at least, not only a reflection of “the self” but also a way in which to express one’s likes and dislikes to the world. In some ways, I suppose, it’s the social media of yesterday. I mean what a great way to let people you don’t know and who don’t know you learn about how you view the world. Think about it. There are the proverbial sports tees that let you share with your part of the world your favourite team and pretty much what you will be watching on TV for most of any given season. Then there are those travel tees that you pick up to prove to people who don’t know you where you chose to spend most of last year’s salary. Of course we would all be remiss if we didn’t, at least once in awhile, wear a tee from our alma mater, and if not our own, at least one from some Ivy League school that we can pretend we attended. Or one with a giant pic of the rock star we always thought we could be, or be with. And while affinity tees say a lot, they’ve got nothing on those much more expressive tees with actual sayings on them.

You’ve seen them. They’re the ones that display the profound thoughts of our icons of the past and present. Perhaps the people who wear these tees are more introspective than I, but I do still wonder if they believe that simply because they are wearing the words of Aristotle “To perceive is to suffer” across their chest, that people will think they actually know, and more importantly, understand what he meant. Or that in some odd way they share with Churchill the notion that “When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber”  just because they put 20 bucks down on a medium red with white lettering.  Having said that, I will admit that these days I just might take a few steps back from someone wearing a “Make America Great Again” tee just in case they really mean it.

Truth be told though, if (and that’s a very big “if”) I ever decide to take a detour and go down this road, it will be for one of those “in your face”  tees because if you’re going to say something to the world you might as well say what you mean and mean what you say. Like the other day, in that proverbial coffee shop of mine, I saw a young woman wearing a “I’m having a shitty day. Does that answer your question?” tee. You gotta know, the last thing I’m gonna do is strike up a conversation with that gal. Or talk to the person who got up that morning, looked through their closet and with everything else they had to wear chose to don their “I don’t like morning people, or mornings, or people” shirt because, as a shallow person, I can relate to that. And me being me, I have to give them credit for being open, honest and to the point.

So here’s what I’m thinking now. Maybe I could get myself a couple of those tees that became so popular during the Brexit hoopla. I’d buy one that says “Leave” and another that says “Stay” because who needs to take sides at this point? Besides, I keep my clothes for a long time and need something with staying power. Just think how handy those would be when…well I’ll just leave that to your imagination. In the meantime, I’m going to see if I can pick up a couple in black and white.

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I’m Living the Life!

chairIt finally happened. Wait. Perhaps I had better backtrack for just a moment or two. Many of you I’m sure, have noticed that I have been remiss, having not posted to the B.S. sightings section of the blog for quite some time. It’s not that things have changed all that much over the past little while. As far as I can tell I look pretty much the same as always and I believe my doppelganger chanteuse does too. And it’s not that people haven’t continued to notice. As a matter of fact, the sightings themselves have not diminished at the same rate as the writing about them has. It’s just that, for the most part, they’ve pretty much been the run of the mill “has anyone ever told you” events. Well there was one server in Vancouver who used “astonishingly like” in a sentence with regard to my likeness to Ms. Streisand. And there was the make-up salesperson in Toronto who told me how lucky I was to share her resemblance, although I must admit that I silently wondered whether she was really trying to sell me more product. But neither of those inspired me to write an entire paragraph on the encounter. Nothing really had struck as sufficiently unique, until now.

But you’ll have to wait just a little longer because I must digress. You see, there are several parts to this story so it’s going to take some time. If you’ve been following along carefully for the last 2 and a half years, you’ll know that I can oft be found at my local Starbucks, with or without a view of the sea, sipping on a nonfat, no foam latte.  It’s just what I do and I particularly like to do it in what those of us “in the know” know as “the comfy chair”. Because you see, at every one of these establishments there is a variety of seating options ranging from “not so comfortable” to “really comfortable”. As a frequent flyer (I’m so far ahead of the game that my SB gold card has pretty much been renewed indefinitely) I am, of course, prone to select the latter option whenever possible. Possible being the key word as, more often than not those comfy chairs are occupied by my compatriots and I’m relegated to something harder and much more wooden. At least for the time being, as before too long the phenomenon best described as the “Starbuck’s Shuffle” begins.

For those of you who have never experienced said shuffle, here’s how it works. First, you plunk yourself down at a table as close to the comfy chairs as possible. Next, you make yourself not too comfortable because hopefully sooner than later, you’ll be moving. Now here’s the tricky part. You need to keep your eye on the prize without raising the suspicions of your fellow sippers lest you end up in a foot race. This next step is important because the very moment (and I mean right away) that you see movement at those comfy chairs, is your cue to swing into action. What you do now is dependent on where you live. In some cities it’s ok to hover, and you can step right up and help those who are leaving, leave. In other cities convention has it that you allow the leavers to leave and only approach the chairs when their previous occupants are sufficiently out of the way.  You’ll have to figure this one out for yourself. In either case, it’s never easy but trust me, the reward will be well worth the effort.

So with this in mind, let me tell you what happened last week. As expected, I found myself sitting at a table secretly (I thought) surveying the landscape in an effort to determine which of the comfy chairs were most likely to be vacated first. I’m looking for all of the clues, an almost empty cup, one member of the party making their way to the loo, perhaps a computer being packed up, when suddenly my eyes meet those of another. And at that moment, much to my astonishment, the man whose eyes I had inadvertently met and who, until that very moment was a complete stranger, stands up and without hesitation says “my wife says we should give the comfy chairs to you because (and here it comes) you look like Barbra Streisand.” OMG! They gave up their comfy chairs for me! After all of this time, all of the sightings, all of the witty retorts to “do you know who you look like” I have had to come up with, it finally happened. I’m finally reaping the benefits of being a “look-a-like”. I’m finally living the life!

And now there’s only one problem. I’m just not sure how I’m ever going to sit in one of those hard, wooden chairs again.

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Things I don’t need to know (TIDNTK)

stopSo I’m sitting on our fav patio having my usual grande non-fat, no foam latte, (the specifics of which you should know in case you ever want to “treat”) pretty much minding my own business, when the woman sitting at the next table strikes up a conversation. It wasn’t one of those really interesting conversations that people sometimes have over a cuppa. To be honest, I can’t really remember what triggered the chit chat but I’m pretty sure it was along the lines of “Wonderful day! Nice that the weather has finally warmed up. Afterall, it is July.”  a commonly expressed sentiment in my part of the world. Or perhaps she commented on someone walking by dressed, to be polite, unusually, confident that my opinion would mesh with hers. And although our encounter was short it was clear that in some way, if only in her mind, she and I had grown close, by whatever metric one can measure closeness between two, until that moment, strangers.

I know this must be the case because a short while later, and after we had both comfortably returned our attentions back to our regular coffee partners, she got up and walked toward the door of the cafe, stopping just long enough to look me straight in the eye and proclaim, in the most matter of fact way that “coffee goes right through me.”  Just like that. She stopped to tell me she had to go to the bathroom and pretty much what she was going to do there. This person who I had, in the broadest sense of the word “known” for just short of ten minutes, shared with me what I would consider to be one of the most private of bodily functions. Now I know that some people would shrug this sort of thing off with the oft, perhaps even overused saying we have come to know as TMI (too much information) but not I. For me, this open and rather uninhibited disclosure was simply a thing I did not need to know (TIDNTK) at all. Because I don’t. I don’t need to know anything about anyone else’s bodily functions. I mean it’s enough that I have to deal with my own which, if you don’t mind my saying, can be problematic in of themselves.

As I reflected on this encounter I realized that there are other TIDNTK. Like secrets. Now I love a good secret as much as the next person but here’s the problem. As you may recall (and if you don’t, as always you can read about it here) I don’t have the very best memory. So when you tell me a secret one of two things is going to happen. There’s a very distinct possibility that I’m going to forget what you told me which is probably the least of two evils, but nonetheless makes the whole exercise rather pointless. The more problematic outcome is that I’m going to remember what you told me but forget that “don’t tell anyone but…” part of the conversation, rendering the aforementioned “secret” less so. Which is never a good thing.

Finally, and this is by no means a comprehensive list, I never need to know how much you paid for anything. Now this may surprise some of you who know a little bit about my background since, my Mother at the ripe old age of almost 99 (maybe that’s something you didn’t need to know) can, at a moments notice, rhyme off the price she paid for each of the 6 steaks she served for dinner on July 8, 1963. So if I did want to know prices I would have come by it honestly. But the thing is I don’t. You see, if I bought the same item and paid more for it than you did, I’m just going to feel bad. And if you paid more for it than I did, well what good is that going to do you? If we paid the same then I suppose I knew all along what you paid, so what did I gain by your telling me? And then there is always the chance that you tell me how much you paid for something just to let me know that you could. Silly, because that will likely result in my being judgmental and thinking about how stupid you were to pay so much and not wait for whatever it was to go on sale. Because everything always does.  And that’s what I would do if only to avoid the aforementioned “feeling bad” thing. So, as you can see none of this is good, ergo best not to know in the first place.

I’m sure there are many more TIDNTK but they’ll have to wait ‘cause I gotta run. Must have been something I ate.

 

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There is such a thing as a free lunch

freeI’m afraid I’ve been remiss but please don’t mistake this for an apology. It’s more of an explanation really. The thing is I started this blog for a couple of reasons. The first was to help people better understand the benefits of living life as a shallow person. I hope I have done that by sharing with you some of the stories of my life. The second was to provide those of you inclined to follow in my steps with some tricks and tips for doing so. And this is where I think I may have stumbled just a bit. Because I haven’t really focused on the “how to’s” which isn’t all that surprising since I have never been one to tell people what to do. Except of course the kids. But that’s to be expected. So, I was quite pleased the other day when I came upon a situation that reminded me what this blog was all about and how I might have gotten slightly off the path I was trying to beat. It was, as they say in my world, a teachable moment.

It all started with a coffee meeting set up to discuss some really important work stuff. A little before we were to meet, my wonderful colleague (yes, she reads the blog) let me know that if she arrived before I did she would pick up my drink for me. My immediate reaction was “how lovely of her” followed closely by “so what would it hurt if I’m a couple of minutes late?”. And sure enough, when I arrived I found both her and my drink waiting patiently for me. It was at that moment I realized there really is such a thing as a free lunch, or at the very least, a coffee and that perhaps this particular skill of mine was something to be shared with others. Because, as you can see, it’s about the timing. Late enough to ensure she would get there before me but not so late to cause her to become irritated. Or let my drink get tepid. But while the timing is critical, what is even more important in a situation such as this, is to shed any shred of guilt you might feel about pulling this off. Which, goes without saying, is not all that difficult for a truly shallow person.

Let’s look at another example. You’ve just finished a delish repast with a friend you haven’t seen for perhaps forty years or so. You’ve exchanged the requisite numbers of stories about kids, travel and first husbands when it occurs to you that a moment even more uncomfortable than the conversation you have just experienced is still to come. Let’s face it. You know the server will place the cheque strategically at equi distance between you and your lunch partner so here’s what you need to do. Hesitate for just a moment. If you have to, save that last forkful of desert for this very purpose and when your new found friend reaches to pick up the cheque, resist any urge you may have to suggest a different solution to this problem. No matter what that little voice inside your head tells you just say “how nice”, and “thank you”. To assuage any twinges of guilt you may have at this juncture, think of it this way. Either she has enjoyed your company so much that she’s happy to pay or she has way more money than you do. One way or the other it’s a win-win and you just got a free lunch. Remember, timing and guilt.

Of course it won’t always go this way. There are those who prefer a more collaborative arrangement, a “round robin” of sorts where they get this one and you get the next. Go ahead and make that deal. But may I respectfully suggest that before your next date you take another boo at “Forgetting…it’s an art”. I’m guessing that little refresher will come in handy right about now.

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