Tag Archives: coffee

The Cat’s Not Dead, Yet

To work or not to work. It may not be “the” question but it is a question nonetheless. And it’s one I’ve been pondering for some time now. As many of you know, I retired (apparently fake news) going on two and a half years ago. It’s true. I got the gifts and the accolades from my colleagues, which included a very public declaration of my aversion to hugging. Timely I’d say on that particularly day. I even gave a “poem speech” as I am apt to do on these type of occasions. So you would think I would have packed my bags, bid a fond adieu and rode off into the sunset. You would think. But, again as many of you know, I took a day off (actually two) and headed back to my desk, albeit in a rather distant location,where I have remained ever since. Because apparently it’s what I love to do. Work. But “the time has come to talk of other things, like shoes and ships and sealing wax” (Thanks LC). Well maybe not that. Ok, shoes. But at the very least one must talk about what to do when stepping away from the almost too familiar daily grind.

As I am wont to do at these times of indecision, I called a good ol’ friend and headed to my neighborhood watering hole (ok, you know where I went) to shoot the breeze and have someone else figure this out for me. It’s the least they can do, don’t you think? I mean I’ve pretty much worked out my life for myself to this point. I think it’s about time that someone else stepped up to the plate and took a swing at the bat. Why let fate take its course when you can plant the blame firmly on someone else? Sure. It might cost you a cuppa coffee or two but if that’s what it takes to absolve yourself of all future responsibility for the decisions you make, it’s money well spent in my book. Just think of it as an investment in your future. And so, there we sat under the blazing sun in the eternally blue skies of Alberta, talking about all things retirement.

The thing I love about retired people is how they manage to put a positive spin on just about anything. Talk to them about money. Let’s face it. More than likely, when you retire you will be living on a few less shekels than what you’ve become accustomed. I know. There are the pensions the government gives out in order to leave enough cat food on the shelves for the cats. And then there’s the dollars you have been saving for nigh on 40 years that you can now start to pry out of that wallet of yours. Nonetheless, you are still likely to come up a little bit short. But ask a retired person about living on less and, dimes to dollars, they’re going to tell you that they don’t even notice the difference. First they’ll rattle on about all of the seniors discounts that are now at your disposal. So what if you can only go to the grocery store on the first Tuesday of every month and the lines will literally be out the door? You’re retired! What else did you have to do? Then there’s those early bird specials at the local diner which are perfect, now that you will want to be home for the 6:00 news anyway. Of course clothes are no longer an issue since you can pretty much wear the same jeans and T for most everything. Afterall, who’s looking at you? And if you decide you need a new frock, just head down to the nearest Bay store, on a Tuesday of course.. At the end of this diatribe you’re absolutely convinced that, not only will you be able to avail yourself of all of the necessities of life, but should Bill Gates come knocking at your door you’ll welcome him with open arms and let him know you’ve managed to reserve a suite for he and his family at the Four Season’s. Gratis.

As important as money might be however, that’s not what you’re really worried about. You really want to know more about what’s going to get you out of bed each day. How are you going to pass all of that time now that you don’t have a whack of emails to go through, people to see, places to go. And here again they’ll pontificate on the wonder that is retirement. Somehow, and apparently this happens each and every day, you get up in the morning and before you know it, the day is done. They`re not even sure where the time goes but somehow between reading the morning paper and watching Peter Mansbridge  end the day with the nightly news (it`s a Canadian thing), time just flies by. Asking for more specifics reaps some rather vague chatter about taking walks, meeting friends for coffee, getting through the stack of books that’s managed to accumulate over dozens of years, the gratifying feeling that one gets from volunteering once a week and that continuing education photography course they should have, would have taken years ago if only they had found the time. This will all end with the now very much overused and perhaps even, somewhat trite “I don’t know how I ever had time to work” followed by what can only be described as a long sigh of gratitude that those days of tedium are over and done with.

Of course, the conversation can’t come to an end without some talk about travel. It seems to me that for most, this is really what retirement is all about. Once you’ve wrapped up the daily 9 – 5 you are apparently now free to travel the world. There are places to go, people to see.  And so it was that I sat and listened to my friend wax eloquently about the exotic destinations he’s visited, the wonderful food and wine he consumed, and the beaches he has relaxed on, with nothing better to do than sip Margaritas and watch the evening sun slip through the sky. Who could ask for anything more? So I was not surprised that when he stopped to take a well deserved breath, he noticed the look of dismay on my face. The conversation that followed went something like this:

My Friend: “What?” he said. “Have I not convinced you that this will be the best time of your life?”
Me: “Don’t get me wrong. This all sounds great.
My Friend: “What is it then? What’s the problem?”
Me: As enticing as the walking and the discounts, the coffee and Peter might be, I’m really most interested in the travelling. But, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to do that.”
My Friend: Why not? You’re still young! You have the time, the money and the energy. What’s going to stop you now?”
Me. “Well, it’s none of those things. It’s just that the cat’s not dead yet.”

I don’t know. Maybe I better just keep working.

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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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