My Canada

It seems like this past week has been heartbreaking both locally and nationally. It began with the suicide of a colleague’s friend, continued with the murder of Quebec soldier,  Patrice Vincent, the terrorist triple shooting in Ottawa and murder of another soldier, Nathan Cirillo from my hometown of Hamilton, and concluded by the death of two Burlington teenagers. My heart cried for these people and their family and friends who lost a loved one so suddenly.

As the news of more deaths came with each passing day, so close to home, my heart sank further and further. Speaking to the murders of the soldiers, definitive acts of hate and rage against our country, they sought to tear down our spirit. However, the outpouring of love and support, both from Canadians and others worldwide, came as a swell. It rose up loud, strong, telling the attackers that we as Canadians will not be afraid. We will honour the dead as heroes, and we will not let the perpetrators gain the infamy they so crave.

Tomorrow, Hamilton honours Nathan Cirillo, and Canada stands by his side. Our community coming together with love makes me proud to be Canadian. No, I was not born here, but Canada is my culture and my pride.

I’m the kind of person that, no matter how long I’ve been out of the country, gets a knot in my throat and a bit teary-eyed every time the border or airport security guard says “Welcome home.” Canada is my favourite country. I’ll travel anywhere and everywhere, but I’ll never settle anywhere but here.

I just wanted to put that out there, and share this chilling video of the Highway of Heroes tradition, honouring fallen soldiers along Canada’s largest autoroute. I cried for our heroes, for our country, and at the amazing show of love and patriotism.

O, Canada.

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“It’s my birthday month.”

Birthday FreebiesContrary to what others might say about me, I don’t really like being the centre of attention, and as such, I don’t really like throwing a birthday party for myself. If I do have a big party (which I have for the past couple of years), it’s because I want all my friends to have fun. That being said, I use my birthday as an excuse to get anything I want, and I celebrate all month long.

This year, I spent my birthday walking around downtown Toronto to collect all my birthday freebies that different companies offer! Starbucks gives you a big fancy birthday drink, Menchies gives you a free froyo cup (up to $5) and as most girls know, Sephora gives you different birthday gifts every year. Yes, all of these perks come with memberships, but they’re all free to sign up, so why not!

A couple other places that give you free things are Tuckers Marketplace and Wok of Fame (free buffet dinner), Booster Juice (free drink coupon), Pickle Barrel (app/dessert with purchase of entree), What-a-Bagel (free 6 bagels with purchase of 6 bagels), and Spoonful (1/2 price buffet dinner). There are a bunch on this list that I found online.

Lou Dawgs

Lou Dawg’s – 589 King St W., Toronto

So I woke up on the noon of my 24th birthday with a hankering for BBQ. I had been having flashbacks to our outing that had included the Lancaster Smokehouse in Kitchener, so I headed out to the closest place to the condo, Lou Dawg’s BBQ. I’ve seen a few Lou Dawgs around, and the Belly Monsters informed me that they weren’t bad. I had a breakfast birthday beer followed by their two meat platter — pulled pork and brisket — which came with two sides — coleslaw and baked beans, my weakness. I also ordered a cheesy jalapeno cornbread, because really, who can say no to that combination? The platter ($14.99) is a great value and it comes with a bun sliced in half for you to make sandwiches if that’s what your heart desires.

Now, I don’t know why I broke my rule of never ordering pulled pork at a restaurant. It is always disappointing and this one was no different. It tasted like what I can make in my slow cooker. I put it in the bread with my coleslaw, which made it marginally better.

The brisket was a little better. Soft, delicious, but sitting in a pool of grease and fat smothered in barbecue sauce. However, when you drain the fattiness at the bottom from the meat, it is actually quite delicious. They also serve the bbq with two different sauces on the side. The hot sauce is not so hot.

The cornbread was a muffin with pieces of japaleno in it. It was really yummy but disappointingly dry. The cheese on top was crispy and chewy and delicious. I did love the coleslaw and baked beans though. The beans were smokey and perfectly sweet. The coleslaw was the right about of tangy and crunchy. The sides were definitely the highlight of the whole lot, along with the funny and upbeat bartender/waiter.

boston pizza

Boston Pizza – 2915 Eglinton Ave W., Mississauga

Yes, I do not only eat at independent restaurants. We actually eat at chain restaurants quite often when we’re trying to please everyone and just need a quick bite. This night was just some wings and desserts. These Caesars were probably the worst Caesar I’ve ever had. The bacon was bleh. There was too much vodka, and not enough tomato flavour, or any other flavour really.

The big round thing in the middle is what they call a “Doughcano.” It’s their chocolate explosion cake wrapped in pizza dough, baked, then topped with whipped cream. It was chewy, with thick fudge in the middle, and oh man. It was perfect. Chewy, sugary, and a huge hit of chocolate if that’s what you’re craving. my only complaint is that the cheesecake tasted and felt more like marshmallows than cheesecake.

The panookie on the right is always a good bet. A giant chocolate chip cookie that’s pan-fried, then topped with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate and caramel sauce. A nice dose of sugar. The edges are crispy and the inside is chewy.

d hot shoppe

D Hot Shoppe – 4155 Fairview St, Burlington

D Hot Shoppe is a Caribbean/West Indian restaurant that has been recommended to me over and over again by both Dave (@1goatroti) and Justin (@the_Jmoney). On the left is a goat roti drenched in medium gravy and on the right is a doubles, which is a deep fried dough traditionally stuffed with curried chickpeas. They put chutney in it and I asked them to put chicken in it too. They do not look appetizing to someone who’s never had them before but DANG. So good. I’d go eat here twice a week if I were nearby. If you can handle spice, I would still recommend getting the medium. I thought I was soo strong and ordered the hot level the first time I ate at D’s and I regretted it for a few days as it burned through my digestive tract. It was still delicious though.

French ToastPhoenix Chinese Restaurant – 4040 Creditview Rd, Mississauga

A pretty normal Chinese restaurant where you can get your noodles and rice and sweet and sour pork. That beast up there is what they called French toast with peanut butter. It is a pretty dense, sweet bread with peanut butter spread in the middle, deep fried, and then you smother it in more butter and maple syrup. It is deadly. It is delicious.

St Louis

St. Louis Bar & Grill – 6485 Mississauga Rd, Mississauga

My friend Audrey has been obsessed with Caesars lately, and rightly so. They’re delicious. I love it when my caesar comes with a pickled bean. Yum yum.

The burger was quite good, but I just needed a second to rave about these sweet potato fries. Ultra yummy with just the right about of crispiness and potatoeyness still in the middle. They even serve it with a spicy mayo — perfect.

MilestonesMilestones – 10 Dundas St. E. (Yonge & Dundas), Toronto

The Tuesday Peach Bellini special at Milestones is great! It’s like a slushie made of Tim Horton’s peach drink, but not as disgustingly sweet. Then it’s topped with a flavoured vodka, and apparently an animal of the deer variety. The boys were feeling too manly to order one for themselves even though they really really wanted one.

The white chocolate cheesecake is BEYOND. Just beyond beyond. Soft, sweet, decadent, light, with some coffee underneath, whipped cream at the top. Smooth. Take-me-home-to-yo-momma delicious. Tuck-me-into-a-bed-of-rose-pedals-and-make-love-to-me delicious.

Couple Photo

And lastly, the dude that made my birthday outings possible by spoiling me.

I hope all your birthday wishes come true around the world! If they don’t, make them happen.

 

 

 

 

Modern Dating Pitfalls or Playing Victim?

While crawling through the mudpit that is Facebook, I came upon a link to a blog post titled, “18 Ugly Truths About Modern Dating That You Have To Deal With.” from Thought Catalog, and written by Christopher Hudspeth. I’m not sure if I’m just not sympathizing with the dating pool these days because I’m not in it, or if the people who follow these nuggets of advice are dooming themselves to the single life if they are actively trying to find a significant other. I’ll admit, I got quite lucky with finding my boyfriend, but I’d also been single long enough that I didn’t beat around the bush. I didn’t overanalyze everything, I was myself. But I also don’t discount the fact that I found someone who I really connected with, and judging by all my friends now who are unable to find someone who isn’t crazy, those chances were really slim. I won the lottery.

Moving on, reading that article, I couldn’t help but think to myself, the people who take this advice and act on it are only making themselves seem like the crazy ones. Maybe if they lived in the moment and actually tried to find someone they enjoy hanging out with — someone compatible — they’d see that not everyone is trying to screw you over. Maybe try to determine if you can be someone’s friend first — enjoy spending time with them without overthinking everything — before jumping into labels.

The person who cares less has all the power. Nobody wants to be the one who’s more interested.

I’m not going to lie. I used to think like this too, but really, who wants to be in a relationship where both people are afraid to love fully. Both are trying to show the other how little they care. Isn’t that the opposite of a fulfilling relationship?

The only reason people repeat this mantra to themselves is that they’re afraid to unveil themselves, and fully invest themselves into a relationship. This one hit me closest to home because when I was following this “rule”, it was because I had been hurt in relationships before and I was trying my best to not be hurt again. However, in trying not to get hurt, I also didn’t let the other person in enough to make us both as happy as possible. Sometimes it’s hard to take the leap, but once you do, you’ll find that everything gets easier. You live with the belief that your significant other is there to make you happy and you are there to make them happy. If you’re too scared of getting hurt and you’re holding yourself back, the other person isn’t getting to know the real you anyway. And who wants to spend the rest of their lives behind a facade?

Of course this can go the other way, and you can misjudge them, and it will hurt so much. We’ve all been hurt before, but we all know that with time, hurt will heal. However, when they hurt you, do you want to think back to the weeks/months/years that you were together shielding yourself and not having the most possible fun and feeling the most love? Either way, you’d get hurt. One way, you’ll at least loved fully and felt love. The other way, you’ve spent the whole relationship being bitter and paranoid, not really enjoying the relationship because you’re afraid that they’ll turn at any second. And for what reason? To say “I knew it” at the end?

  • The only difference between your actions being romantic and creepy is how attractive the other person finds you. That’s it, that’s all.
  • The text message you sent went through. If they didn’t respond, it wasn’t because of malfunctioning phone carrier services.
  • Social media creates new temptations and opportunities to cheat. The private messaging and options for subtle flirtation (e.g. liking of pictures) aren’t an excuse or validation for cheating, but they certainly increase the chances of it happening.

Many of the “modern dating truths” represented really are just about how shitty some people are. I used to overthink it if a guy didn’t like me back, but then I got to thinking. Why would I want to be with someone who doesn’t want me? And that has become my mantra for nearly everything. You don’t want to be the only person putting forth an effort in any relationship. If that person doesn’t want to be with you, your relationship would be superficial. You deserve to be with someone who wants to be with you. Someone who wants to make you happy. Sometimes it feels like that person is impossible to find, but there are so many people out there, and I’m sure, so many decent people.

One quote I came across online that really aided in me cutting out toxic relationships is, “Don’t treat someone like a priority when they treat you like an option.” Don’t ignore the signs. Often times, courtships fail because people aren’t clear about what they’re looking for. You’re not going to be able to dig a serious relationship out of someone who’s just looking for a fling.

All the advice given in the article are about people playing games. They blame the other person for how hard it is to find a significant other. However if you’re following these “rules” and thinking the worst of the other person right off the bat, aren’t you adding to the problem? Maybe you’re unconsciously pushing them away. By thinking they’re playing games, you obviously try to counteract that by playing games right back. Bringing a bitter mentality just brings people down and wards them all away. Would you want to date a negative Nancy?

If you’re looking for a serious relationship. Don’t play games. It’s exhausting, it gets you nowhere, and it’s basically starting a relationship based on lies. Ignore the people who do play games. They aren’t worth your time. There’s just so many ways to break a relationship through modern technology and not enough ways to keep them together. How do we avoid playing games with people? I think the problem is people jumping into getting to know someone as a boyfriend before getting to know them as a person and a friend. It just doesn’t work. It makes it too awkward, and too much pressure. I try to get to know someone as a friend before seeing if there’s a romantic link. To see if the conversation flows smoothly and if you have the same outward views on the world.

Over the years, I’ve listened to countless friends’ dating horror stories. People who have looked online for love, who’ve exhausted their supply of friends’ friends, to no avail. My advice has always been the same.

  • Don’t overthink it.
  • Be yourself.
  • If you like them, put yourself out there. Be forward (but not aggressive). If they don’t respond to it, fuck it, your relationship wouldn’t be that great anyway. Find someone who loves you for you (however cheesy that sounds, it’s true.)

My friend S put the last few points better than I could. People need to get over themselves. You’re not a princess that deserves to be spoiled. You’re not any better than anyone else. It’s not about one person spoiling the other, it’s about finding a partnership that works. You’re not going to find the person that’s 100% perfect. You’re going to find someone who’s 70%-80%-90% compatible with you, and you work at the other percentages with compromise and communication. Because relationships are not rainbows and fairy dust, they are work, but it’s so worth it.

Good luck out there, all you brave brave people of the single world. Don’t be bitter, and I hope you find the person who’s willing to work at being happy with you.

Amy Tintera – Rebel

Amy Tintera Rebel

Amy Tintera – Rebel

For the first book of my 50 Book Pledge, I decided to stick to something I already knew. Rebel is the sequel to Amy Tintera’s “Reboot” which I picked up randomly a few months ago. Considering how the first one ended, I should have seen a sequel coming; nonetheless, I was surprised when I saw Rebel come out.

As you are probably very well aware, dystopian teen fiction is ALL the rage right now. Goodbye vampires, angels, and werewolves! Honestly, before the Hunger Games came out, I didn’t even know what dystopian meant. If you don’t either, here’s a definition for you, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:

dys·to·pia

noun \(ˌ)dis-ˈtō-pē-ə\

an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly

I always described dystopian teen fiction as an alternate-universe with a post-apocalyptic feel. There is always action and usually an overthrow of whatever government or entity is in power.

The Spiel

The Reboot series is set in a world where an unknown virus takes over and starts killing people, kind of like a super aggressive flu. However, kids and teenagers with the virus start coming back to life after they die. The longer they’re dead, the stronger they are when they come back. The government rounds up these “reboots”, contain them, and force them to capture criminals for the government. They are treated like animals. The book follows the story of Wren, number 178 (the number of minutes she was dead), who was one of the highest numbers anyone had ever seen, and therefore one of the strongest reboots. The story is full of action and excitement.

Why should I read this?

I love that the female lead is portrayed as a strong and independent, albeit stubborn girl. I really love zombie movies, and even though it’s not about mindless drones coming back to eat brains, I really enjoy reading about how a society would deal with the dead coming back to life. These two books explore both how a powerful entity would deal with these beings coming back, stronger than regular humans, as well as how families react to their children becoming both dead and alive. Schrodinger’s Zombie. Teen books are great for a nice light read. This sequel had some nice twists and big shocks.

Pitfalls

Of course, being a teen fiction novel with a female lead, there’s a love interest somewhere. Eventually all the blushing and “I kissed his lips lightly” get a little annoying. At one point in Reboot, it seemed to happen all the time, but thankfully, the author toned it down in Rebel. I usually just roll my eyes and barf a little every time I read a line about some PG teen romance. I get it, I get it, your heart flutters, goddamn. However, I did enjoy that even though they were in this weird relationship, both partners evolved into better, stronger individuals because of it, instead of becoming increasingly codependent and destructive.

Do not read if you don’t like reading series because it looks like this is going to be a trilogy. But, if you’re reading teen fiction, then you know it always takes teen authors more than one book to complete a story arc.

Conclusion

Read this if you like the Divergent series and Mockingjay, or if you’re looking for an action book that doesn’t require a lot of thinking.

Growing Older

What follows is a pretty long-ish story I read on Reddit made by user Kylearm. It’s a very interesting story, but don’t read it if you don’t want to cry. Actually, skip this entire post if you don’t want to be depressed at all.

“One day after filling up my car with gas, I went inside to pick up some snacks for the long drive to my hometown. As I was heading in, I saw an elderly couple. They were both very old and kind of unkempt, but the husband was so loving and careful as he wheeled his frail wife in her wheelchair up the handicapped ramp, turned her around so her back was to the store, and parked her by the door. He said “You wait here, honey. I’ll go get your ice cream,” and went inside, kind of bent over, but spry nonetheless.

When I got into the store, there was a middle aged guy who seemed to be old friends with the woman behind the counter, probably the owner or manager. He was teasing her and they were laughing. As I got in line to pay for my M&Ms, he said his farewell and went out the door. The woman greeted the next customer.

Suddenly the middle-aged man came back in and said, deadpan, “Call the ambulance.”

“Oh you!”–the woman exclaimed, thinking he was still kidding.

“No,” he replied, absolutely calm, but clearly focused, “I really mean it. An old lady has fallen down out here.”

The woman grabbed the phone. The old man bleated “Honey!” and ran out the door, drumstick ice cream in hand. I put my M&Ms back and went outside to see if I could help.

There was the old lady, face-down under her wheelchair in a small pool of blood. The middle-aged man, who was quite large and brawny, carefully pulled the chair off of her. She was moaning. The husband was in an absolute panic, crying, “Honey! Honey!” and trying to help, but he was too weak. As I neared the scene, I noticed the smell. This lady had not been bathed in a very long time.

The man carefully rolled her over. She had a large tear on her forehead and a swelling, purple, bleeding upper lip. The entire right side of her face was full of gas-station-parking-lot dirt. Black. Her husband kept saying “It’s alright, you’re alright, it’s okay,” but the woman only sobbed back. An empty, senseless, language-less sob.

The husband looked down at the ice cream in his hand, and suddenly, furiously tore it open. He held it up for her. “Look, honey, I got your ice cream. See? It’s alright. Have your ice cream,” he said, weakly touching it to her filthy, bloodied lips. One of the customers gently pulled his hand away and said, “She can’t have it now; let’s wait for the ambulance to arrive.” He looked ashamed as he set the ice cream down on the pavement.

The hospital was just down the street, and the ambulance arrived very shortly. The EMTs got her on a stretcher, and with every movement, she groaned louder. No words, just sounds.

They began asking if anyone had seen what had happened. The middle-aged man said that he saw her just roll off the curb and flip face down onto the parking lot.

“Who left her there?” the EMT demanded.

“I did! I was getting her ice cream!” the husband yelped.

“Didn’t you put the brake on?”

A moment of horrible realization passed over his face, then he plead, “Yes! I… Yes! I think so… I think I did.”

The EMT nodded knowingly to one of his partners and they set about getting the old woman into the ambulance. As they did, the old man was in a whirlwind of confusion, trying to be strong for his beloved wife, but beginning to cry himself, seeming to be at his wits’ end as he was helped into the back of the ambulance.

After they had left and the scene calmed, it dawned on me why he was in such a panic. It wasn’t just how much he loved her, or the fall, or the blood, or even that it was his fault. It was that this was the end of their life together. He’d been doing his best to keep his wife, so old, so frail, at his side, to care for her, to be with her always. Maybe he wasn’t strong enough to help her bathe, maybe her diapers didn’t quite fit right, but they were together. He was passing. Just barely, but passing.

And now, with this one little mistake, this one little goof, this one little slip of the aging mind, it was all over.

The hospital staff would be concerned about her hygiene; people would be round the house to judge whether he was capable of caring for her; competency would be questioned, and the decision would not be in his favor. He’d be going home alone to that house tonight, and every night from now on. It was over, all over, and it was his fault.

I reached down and picked up the melting drumstick, holding it gingerly as I walked to the trash can, threw it in, and went back into the store to buy my M&Ms.”

Let’s take a second to let it all out. I probably share this fear with quite a bit of people out there, but I’m afraid of growing older. I’m afraid of being unable to care for myself. Unable to complete the simplest of tasks because I’m too weak. I’m afraid of outliving my loved ones, of losing my parents. I’m afraid of getting old and realizing that I haven’t done half of the things that I promised myself I’d do, that I haven’t done anything with my life. I’m afraid that I’ll die before my husband, as selfish as that sounds. I’m afraid that I’ll die alone. I’m afraid that my mind will deteriorate to the point where I don’t lucidly remember the life I would have led. I want to die before all that happens, but I wouldn’t want to leave my children. There’s loss in each choice, and I guess I’m not the one to make the choice about when I go. I can only hope to live a fulfilling, satisfying, meaningful life with laughter, love, arts, happiness, and all that wonderful stuff.

I want to find love like that.

Though, however long I sit here thinking about what I want out of life, I guess I should plan for the future. Take initiative. Make my life what I want it to be. Not just me, but you too. Stop taking the shit life deals you, don’t just sit there. You can either wallow in shit, or use it as fertilizer. Be the change you want to see (in the world). Turn over a new leaf. Another long string of clichés. Tldr; fuck all of this. I can be afraid of getting old and not accomplishing anything, but instead, I’ll tackle it head on, and maybe I’ll get old and at least accomplish something.