Tag Archives: Starbucks

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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Back Again!

I know. It’s been a while. Not that anyone has been calling to ask what’s goin’ on with the blog. Nonetheless, I’m guessing that by now you’re thinking my transition from a shallow person to a non-shallow person (that would be the opposite, would it not?) has been complete and I can no longer sustain a blog that would claim differently. Can’t say that it’s so. There’s a funny thing about time and distance. You see a month or so ago, when I was 2,120 km (that’s 1317 miles for those who resist the conversion) from home, I was in the thick of it. I kept my eye on things. I knew each and every move that was being made by what seemed (and still does seem) to be someone who might not have been an appropriate choice to run one of the most powerful countries in the world. I suppose I could now conclude that at the time I was residing in our neighbor to the south, it was pretty hard to escape the “goings on” and yet, it was more than that. I was drawn in. Sucked perhaps into the midst of the political debate, discussion and controversy that surrounded me.

But time and distance have made all the difference. Don’t get me wrong. I remain painfully aware of who’s in charge and continue to have moments of pure trepidation as to what news I might awake to on any given morning. And I realize that no man is an island. Although I do actually live on one. But it’s not as intense. Not so immediate. Not so welded into my existence, day in and day out. Besides. There’s no one at the local Starbucks that’s even talking about “45” these days. Trust me. I’m a pretty good listener.

So here I am. Back again and ready to admit that I realize all of what’s been said above doesn’t account for my rather extended absence. And here’s where a shallow person’s colours really shine. You see, shallow people are unabashedly unapologetic about coming up with excuses for pretty much anything that needs explaining. There’s no uphill climb here for me so let’s just get this show on the road. 

Excuse #1: First there’s the “settling back in” stuff that comes with having vacated your homestead for nigh on two months and a bit. The trips to Costco, the local grocers, the butcher, the baker, the bank (bet that’s not what you thought I was going to say) back to Costco. And perhaps with a little less gusto, the now unavoidable dentist appointment that can no longer be sidestepped with a “Sorry but I’m going to be out of town for an extended period of time” excuse. It all has to get done and it all takes time.

Excuse #2: Next there’s catching up to do. Lots of people that haven’t been seen for several months need to be called, arrangements made to get together for a chit chat, and time set aside for that get together. Since I’m normally not the most social person in the universe, the meet and greets tend to take a fair bit of energy on my part, leaving little left in the evenings for my musings. Not that I’m complaining. I mean it’s nice to make some time for friends particularly when it becomes a stellar excuse for my rather flagrant procrastination. Which might not be so problematic if it wasn’t for NetFlix.

Excuse #3: Yes, Netflix. The current scourge of my existence. I can’t even begin to count the number of quite awful movies that are consuming my time of late. In retrospect it may have been a less than good decision to purchase a subscription to this dastardly service given my propensity for watching B list movies. Honestly, why would I think that spending hours watching them on the TV stations was not enough?. Did I think my life could be improved by having access “on demand” to a seemingly infinite number of bad movies? Don’t get me wrong. There are actually some very good offerings on NetFlix (who wouldn’t want to spend an evening with Grace and Frankie?) and there’s something to be said about having the freedom to call up “Eat, Pray, Love” whenever one has the inkling to do so.  But again, all of this takes time and in my case, time away from the blog.

Excuse #4: My laptop broke. Sure I have other computers that I can use for the blog. After all, the blog is on the internet so theoretically I can access it from any electronic device. I have lots of those. But I’m accustomed to writing the blog on my laptop. It’s comfortable. I can move around with it. If I need to leave one room for another I can take it with me. It lets me multitask. I can also watch TV with the laptop on my lap. It’s not that hard. Really bad movies don’t demand all that much attention.

Excuse #5: It’s not that I can’t come up with more excuses but for now I will leave you with this one. I just haven’t had anything to write about. As you may know, I spend a fair bit of time observing the human condition (some might call it drinking coffee) and that usually triggers an idea, a thought, something that inspires me to put pen to paper, so to speak. Lately of course those triggers have been fewer and farther between but nonetheless, they have been there. But now there’s nothing. Nada. None of this half empty/half full glass for me. It’s just plain empty. I don’t know. Can’t really explain it.

Funny story. I’m still sitting here with nothing to write about and yet, what do you know. I’ve written a whole blog post. It’s a post about nothing really. That sounds vaguely familiar.  Makes me think this just might have some potential.

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I’m Afraid the Grass Isn’t Always Greener

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This past week was the 75th anniversary of my elementary school. Let’s get this right. It’s the school that’s 75 years old, and, just to be clear, I wasn’t there in its inaugural year. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there this year either. Not because I didn’t want to go. After careful consideration I figured it was just too long a hop from this little Island of mine for two hours of nostalgia, reconnecting and trying to inconspicuously glance down at people’s name tags just in case I actually could remember who they were. Because even though I wasn’t able to attend, I am guessing that, like me, they too no longer look the same as they did the last time I saw them. Which was probably in the vicinity of 1965. Let’s face it, a lot of things change over 50 odd years. Which got me thinking, as oft is the case, that as much as we are encouraged to embrace it in all facets of our lives, change, in and of itself, is somewhat overrated.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve embraced plenty of changes in this little lifetime of mine. Like writing this blog. Only five years ago I wasn’t writing it and now I am. And how about those moves. Two of them. Took me right smack across the country. First to one of the coldest and then one of the most moderate climes in this vast land of ours. If that’s not change, well I just don’t know what is. There are other things too. Instead of bell bottoms I wear skinny jeans and I rarely enter a store to get them. I type rather than write all of my correspondence. Can’t even remember the last time I bought a stamp. I no longer have to call my friends to find out what they are doing, where they are going, who they are with, what movie they just saw, where they were last night, or what they are “liking” on any given day. With just one click I’m going to find out all of this and more. Whether I want to or not. If I must say so myself, I’ve adapted quite nicely. And yet, having successfully navigated my way through decades of change, I still contend there’s something to be said about the benefits of consistency. Honestly, in this world, some things are just meant to stay the same.

Why, you ask, have my thoughts about change started to change? Well you already know this but there’s nothing wrong with saying it again, as a shallow person I’m pretty laid back when it comes to, well (al)most everything. So when some friends suggested coffee at “someplace new” I thought “Ok, I can try someplace new. What could be so wrong with that?” Looking back at it now of course I should have known better. But there was something enticing about the thought of exploring this new city of mine which is chock full of funky little places to enjoy a cuppa. To make a long story short (and how rarely do I do that?) we traversed many a mile, stopping periodically at various establishments but never finding one that had that je ne sais quoi we apparently were seeking.

It was hard to put a finger on it. I was pretty sure they could all quite competently make my grande, no foam, non-fat, latte even though, no doubt there would be a tinge of disdain as those words so eloquently and effortlessly rolled off of my tongue. I suppose I should learn to say “medium”. Besides, if truth be told, I’m no coffee connoisseur so as long as there is lots of milk in that latte of mine, I’m good. Which is why I am pretty certain it wasn’t about the coffee. I can’t in all good conscience, say I am exactly sure what was happening. The first place we set foot in was too bohemian, the second too avant garde and the third, well the third just didn’t feel right. As we continued on our rather unsuccessful quest we finally and somewhat reluctantly conceded that the grass really isn’t always greener and sometimes that place where “everyone knows your name” (they pay those Baristas to learn your name you know) is where you need to be. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for that comfy chair by the window at your same ol’ same ol’ stompin’ grounds. And sometimes I think my Mother (remember Mom? She just hit the big 101) hit the nail on the head when she admonished me to leave well enough alone.

So you can see why these days I’m giving the whole “change thing” a second thought. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because as I get older I just know what I like and what I don’t. Maybe it’s because some things will always be more comfortable than others. Like a chair that molds to your body when you slip into it. Or that pair of shoes you’ve tried but simply can’t throw away. Or that favourite pair of jeans. Yep, that favourite pair of jeans. Even if they are bell bottoms.

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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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To go or not to go…It’s a question

reunionPlease don’t get me wrong. I’m not insinuating that any of you are shallow just because you read this blog. I know that many of you (and by all accounts there are “many” now) just want to know how the other percentage (small as it may be) lives. You’re curious and that’s ok. I mean, from the very beginning it’s what this blog has been about. At least I’ve always thought of it as a little window into the life of a shallow person. Sometimes you can see your reflection in a window, sometimes not. I suppose it all  depends on how the light falls. Having said that, something has recently happened to me that I would bet my bottom dollar has also happened to you. Because, like me, I’m guessing that each and every one of you attended elementary school. And this comes as a result of that.

As usual, before I get to the crux there’s a little something I have to say. For the most part, I have spent the time since elementary school, and there has been a lot of it, pretty much minding my own business. It’s not that I don’t think about my preparatory alma mater once in awhile.  I’ve even been known to take a drive by when visiting the old neighborhood, just to see if, like me, it’s still standing. It’s just that in the intervening years I have moved from my hometown, not once but thrice, each time substantially further to the west. As a matter of fact, at this point I’m just about as west as one can get in this coast to coast to coast country of ours and with each of these moves the chances of casually bumping into someone from the “good ol’ days” has substantially diminished, along quite frankly, with my memory.

It’s not that I have completely divorced myself from my long ago past. Of course I’m on Facebook and, as one or two of you know, there have been a couple of “blast from the past” moments where me and my former clarinet band mates have had a chance to get together to share some notes. But those connections have been few and far between leaving me, for the most part, with little recollection of my first grade teacher or the popcorn man or even whether I was chastised by Mrs. Elder for not having my sneakers as white as they should have been for gym class. Ok, clearly that one I remember. So with this in mind, you will understand how surprised I was to find out that this year is the 75th anniversary of my elementary school. (No, not my 75th, just the school itself.) And to discover that yes, there is going to be a reunion.

I don’t know about you but as a shallow person my head starts to spin just a little as I consider the implications of this event. It might not surprise you that one of the first things that crossed my mind was my closet. I mean just what might I have in that closet of mine that I would want someone who hasn’t seen me for the better part of 50 years to see? Keep in mind that I was raised in a rather tony part of the big city where parents regaled at the thought of having their six to twelve year old children wear a uniform lest it inhibit their fashion sense.  Oh boy, it’s all coming back to me!  Apparently I didn’t have as much at stake as others may have as now, with most of my days spent working from my home office on this laid back little island of ours, it’s a bit of a stretch to find much beyond jeans and a tee on those hangers of mine. Hence the conundrum. Does one  “come as I am” and not betray thy inner self, or would a trip to the local boutique to drop a bundle on some designer duds which, might I add, are likely put together in the same precarious third world building as that tee of mine, be in order? Honestly, as a shallow person I can go either way with this one. But that’s just one of the many questions that have popped into my head upon learning of this impending get together.

Like who’s going to recognize me anyway? Not that I’ve done anything in particular to look different. There’s been no cuts and tucks, no needles and pins in this face of mine. Heck, I’m lucky to take the time to draw on a couple of eyebrows every morning. Astonishingly, my hair is the same colour as it was way back when, but even so, I’m pretty sure time, in and of itself has taken it’s toll and there will be those who must  inconspicuously glance down to my “Hi, My name is ________”  tag that no doubt we will be asked to don upon entry.  As will I to theirs. Bottom line, if neither one of us truly knows who we are talking to is there really a point to all of this? I mean if I really want to talk to strangers I might just as well amble on over to my fav Starbucks, sit down beside someone who appears to be around the same age as I am and start up a conversation about times past. I won’t even have to worry about making that trip to the boutique.

As you can see this whole thing has caused me much consternation. So now, if you don’t mind, could you put yourself in my Toms for a minute or two and help me as I struggle with making the decision that underlies everything else. To go or not to go? Because, it seems to me, this really is the most important question of all.

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