A Better British List

Last weekend I made quite the shocking discovery. While conducting some research on possible movies to watch, I came across the most blasphemous list of top British period dramas in the IMDB. The cause for my harsh accusation stemmed from this particular ranking:

  • #2 Pride & Prejudice (2005) ft. Kiera Knightly;
  • #3 BBC’s Pride & Prejudice (1995)  ft. Colin Firth.

Yes, consider the travesty… the creator of this list should be severely punished. It is inconceivable that any true appreciator of British period drama could have written this list. Not only was BBC’s P&P not in its rightful first-place position, but Kiera Knightly’s version trumped it! I nearly needed my smelling salts to keep from fainting.

Since my earliest memories, I have been curiously drawn to two things: pioneers (including pioneer-esque lifestyles) and British things. From scones, tea, refined accents, romantic castles, the royal family, to Mr. Bean, the British people know how to do things. My favourite film genre is undoubtedly sweeping British period dramas, especially when Colin Firth is involved. I wouldn’t go as far to call me an “expert,” but I will claim to have much better taste than the impostor who wrote that excuse of a top British romance list.

And so, for the true appreciator of fine quality British period dramas, feast your eyes on the following list of my personal top films:

1. BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, 1995

Yes, you knew this was coming. Undoubtedly, this particular portrayal of the classic Jane Austen romance in the 1995 mini-series is the truest in form to the late Ms. Austen’s famous 1813 novel. Exploring the tribulations of a woman’s dependency on marriage for economic status in the early 19th century, the themes of propriety, class, education, and family still speaks to modern audiences. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darsy respectively held one of the most realistic and heated chemistries ever on screen. Especially exceptional when you consider their first kiss occurs in the film’s final minute!

2. Anna and the King, 1999

I’m going to get some slack for this, but Jodie Foster is absolutely divine as the widowed English schoolteacher who sets out to tutor the King of Siam’s offspring in the 19th century. Though the film is set on the opposite side of the world, historical British themes of colonialism, women’s roles, royal duties, and class are woven into a a sweeping romance that climaxes in one final, slow dance. You will definitely need tissues handy for this one!

3. Downton Abbey, 2010-present

BBC does it yet again in this television series following the lives of a British upper nobility family and their household of servants at the turn of the 20th century. War, heirs, affairs, scandal, bankruptcy, murder trials, running off with the chauffeur … this show has it all. The costumes, sets, and ensemble cast are a feast for your senses. I challenge anyone to watch the first episode and not become addicted.

4. The Duchess, 2008

Kiera Knightly has her place in this epic biographical picture about the life and times of the Duchess of Grey, the “it” girl of the 18th century. Trapped in a loveless marriage at age seventeen to a Duke twice her age, the Duchess rises to fame as a trend-setter, social butterfly, and arguably the first female politicker in British parliament. Despite being adored by British society, she can’t manage to draw the same affection from her own husband. I’d recommend this movie even if just to drool over her fabulous costumes.

5. Atonement, 2007

Clearly I have nothing against Kiera Knightly because she appears yet again in my fifth pick, a tragic love story set before and during the First World War. An upper class thirteen year old girl irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit. This is another one in which you will need to keep tissues handy.

I’m sure I will have many people disagree, so if you do, all I ask is that you use this as an opportunity to comment!

What films or series would you add to this list?

– – – – – – – – – –

UPDATE: North and South replaces Atonement in Top Five position!

After watching the 2004 mini-series North and South, I must bump Atonement out of the Top Five list. North and South follows middle-class southerner Margaret Hale as she is forced to move up north to the cotton-milling industrial town of Milton. Richard Armitage’s portrayal as brooding, misunderstood cotton mill owner is nearly (and I said nearly) as wonderful as Firth’s Darcy.

– – – – – – – – – –

Liked this post? Check out my previous movie kerfuffle with Howie

Goodbye Old Friend

Rookie, August 30, 1996 – August 15, 2012

I need to take a break from my usual humorous overtones to pause and reflect on the passing of one of my best friends, and probably the best dog a family could ask for; Rookie. I didn’t expect to feel so emotional over his death. I realize he was a 16 year old dog, but there’s something about Rookie and what he meant to us that deserves such a reflection, an obituary of sorts. So please help me in remembering a faithful old friend, a gentle, loyal soul, who’s breath was so bad you preferred his flatulence, but we loved him anyway.

We were driving home from a family camping trip when my parents turned back and asked if we wanted to get a puppy. What?! A puppy?! Were they serious?! After years and years of pestering them for a dog was this their idea of a sick joke? What kind of parents would toy with their children’s emotions like this? Alas, they weren’t joking, this was real. We were going to get a puppy! I was ten, my brother eight, and my sisters six and three.

What followed over the next month was an arduous selection process whereby we had to choose what type of dog we were going to get. My dad was gunning for a giant, masculine, Man’s-Dog: the bullmastiff. My mom was promoting a smaller, allergy-friendly type: the miniature schnauzer. We visited breeders of both types and had so much fun playing with the adorable eight mini schnauzer puppies. Their mother and the other adult schnauzers were exceptionally friendly dogs too! I wish I could say the visit with the bullmastiffs went as well, but unfortunately it resulted in four children deathly afraid to get out of a minivan. When it came down to the vote, despite my dad hijacking my youngest sister’s ballot, the miniature schnauzer was overwhelmingly preferred.

Meeting Rookie and his siblings, 1996

Choosing a name for our new family pet wasn’t quite as difficult. One day when we were visiting my grandparents my Grandpa suggested “Rookie” as he was watching the Toronto Jays game. Rookie, eh? That’s sounded about right. After all, he was going to be our very first dog. Taking Rookie home plays back in my mind like some sort of 90s family movie. Sunshine, laughter, and frolicking around the yard. Rookie fit into our family like a glove. He slept in his little crate at night, not making a peep, had a few little accidents in the house, but was otherwise very much housetrained.

As the years went by Rookie’s presence just became a fixture in our house. He grew up with us, loved us, and we loved him. I remember the way my little sister forced him to be the Toto to her Dorothy, that time he grossed us all out by eating a dirty diaper,  how whenever we started tearing down our campsites to go home he jumped right into the van, as if he was afraid we would leave without him (silly dog). When I started dating my future husband, Rookie would jump between us whenever Howie got a little too close to me on the couch. I always wondered if Dad trained him to do that…

When he was about twelve my family added a second mini schnauzer as a Christmas gift to my sister Laura. Andy was a cute little rascal with curly black hair, Rookie was like an older, wiser grandfather. We were so amused by the way Rookie patiently allowed Andy to tug away at his grey beard, never getting angry, just issuing the occasional warning snap when Andy went too far.

Soon, Rookie’s age began to show. His fur became whiter, his eyes started developing cataracts, and his hearing pretty much disappeared. We made adjustments to suit our elderly friend because, well, that’s what he needed. We bought him sweaters to keep him warm, gave him food tailored to suit his aging body, continued to cuddle him even when his breath made you want to die, and carried him home when his feet got cold in the snow.

In the last few years Rookie spent most of his time snoozing on “his” chair, broken by an occasional burst of energy, usually in the mornings. Despite his declining energy, he was a special part of the family, we became quite accustomed to the quirks of having an old dog. When his back half started weakening, Rookie developed an amusing little walk whereby he had to trot three times with his front legs for every long, slow, back leg step. To help him out, we created a little stool so he could still boost himself up onto that beloved armchair.

Miniature schnauzer, old pets, dying pets

By the end, Rookie’s back half got weaker and weaker. The usual things like loss of bowel control, unbalance, and general agitation afflicted him. It was hard to know if it was the “right time” to put him down. My mom tried googling “how to know when to put your pet down” but the truth is, there isn’t a clear cut answer. Somewhere between loving your pet and never wanting to say goodbye is usually where you find it.

We all drove up on Monday evening to say our final goodbyes, hoping that somehow he understood we loved him, and didn’t want to have to say goodbye. On Wednesday night my parents brought him to the vet. They pet him, fed him lots of treats, and then held him as he fell into that permanent state of sleep. Then, Rookie was gone.

I think one of the hardest things about saying goodbye to a beloved pet is that in saying goodbye to him, you are closing a chapter of your own life. From school-aged children to adults that got married and moved out, Rookie watched us grow up, and he was always there at the door to greet us when we came home. Logically, we all know he lived a good, long, life. We know that 16 years is more than what most people get to enjoy their dogs, but it still sucks to have to say goodbye.

Rookie, you were the best kind of dog our family could have ever had. You loved us, made us laugh, provided so much joy, and asked for so little in return. You were loyal, affectionate, and could pull off a sweater like no other dog. We love you little buddy, may you forever rest in peace.

“Dog’s lives are too short. Their only fault really.”

– Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Better than the Alternative

As people across Canada and the US celebrate their nation’s respective “birthdays” this week, my family celebrated a more personal one this weekend, my mom’s. We invited friends and family over to our parents’ backyard for a traditional barbecue full of sunshine, grilled meat, and cold drinks. At one point I asked my mom if she was feeling blue about getting older (as most women do) and her response was priceless; “I’ve got good friends, a great husband, and beautiful kids. My life is pretty good, and getting older is much better than the alternative. So I’m happy.”

“Getting older is much better than the alternative…”

The alternative she speaks of is death of course, and this got me thinking. How many of us truly appreciate aging? My guess is very few. Aging and getting older are treated like the black plague in Western society. We fear it, we try to avoid it, and we become very sad when the first few signs of it appear.

Consider this:

  • The global anti-aging market is expected to reach $291.9 billion by 2015, a growth fuelled as the affluent baby-boomer generation all reach their mid-fifties and sixties
  • The anti-aging market is completely resilient to economic cycles because of consumers’ unchanging desire to be young and healthy
  • North Americans spend $115.5 billion annually on anti-aging skin care products
  • Botox was injected into Americans 5.6 million times in 2011, the average treatment costing between a few hundred to one thousand dollars
  • Since 2000, the amount of people getting botox treatments rose 584%

I will admit I am no saint when it comes to this. I’m in my mid-twenties and I’m already fussing about some wrinkle lines appearing on my forehead. I bought expensive cream this fall and started rubbing it into my head every night trying to force the wrinkles away. Did the wrinkles go away? No. Do I still apply the cream? Yes. While I do not think there is anything wrong with taking care of your body and health, I think us North Americans may have gone a wee bit overboard on the anti-aging front.

I think the money we spend on avoiding age points to a deeper issue in our society. We are so preoccupied with maintaining youthful appearances that we’ve forgotten what a blessing growing old really is. In some cultures, elderly members of communities wear their wrinkles as a badge of honour because it is truly an accomplishment to have lived past forty-five. In communities where infant mortality rates are high, clean water is a novelty, and health care systems are under-developed, growing old is a feat, a rarity, and something to be cherished. If you never get older, it is because you are dead. Moving forward, we should all try to think of birthdays a bit more like my mom does. Birthdays are a blessing, it means we are here, we are alive, and we’ve lived through yet another year.

Imagine what we could do if that $115.5 billion a year we spend on avoiding age was put towards helping others grow old?

Mexican Daredevil

Howie and I got back from a relaxing and fun vacation in the Mayan Riveria last week and I have to say, I’ve come home with a new and intriguing perspective of my husband. I don’t know if it was the warm weather, the fact we were vacationing with friends, (or more probably the tequila) but something came over my usually hesitant Howie and turned him into a connoisseur of trying new things.

Playa del Carmen

It started with the food. For years, I’ve tried to convince Howie he might actually like certain seafoods besides beer-battered haddock. In the heat of the dinner moments he started trying shrimp, sushi and even mussels. His face would scrunch up as he anticipated a disgusting bite, then, his face relaxed, eyebrows raised, and he exclaimed, “Actually, that isn’t so bad!”

Then he participated in the resort pool competitions, losing only by a hair in the kayaking beer-chugging contest. Next, on an excursion we descended into a cenote (underground cave filled with pristine rain-water) and Howie was the first one to jump off the rock into the water (a feat that even I, was too scared to do). To top it off he was mildly attacked by a parrot on his shoulder.

The most thrilling feat of all, however, was when our excursion took us to the edge of a jungle cliff and told us we were all going to rappel down. His cautious instincts kicked in full force at that point:

Howie: Cheryl, this is crazy. Are they seriously making us all do this?!

Cheryl: Yah. This is kinda nuts. I’m not sure about this.

(We walk over to the ledge and look down)

Cheryl: Ummm… I’m not so sure I’m going to do this

Friends: What? You’re not going to go down?

Cheryl: I don’t know….

Howie: It’s ok! It’s ok everyone! I will escort Cheryl down on the trail!

Instructor: No no! You will be fine! Everybody does this!

Howie: Babe, you don’t have to do this. Don’t worry I will walk you down the side

Cheryl: Actually I think I’m going to do it Howie.

Howie: (Eyes bulging) What?! No, no, don’t be silly. There’s no shame. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do

Cheryl: No I think it’s fine Howie. They said 80 year old ladies did it. I’m going to do it.

Howie: (High-pitched groan) Are you sure?

Our friend Denise rappelling down!

Our friend Denise rappelling down!

(We start putting on our gear and get in the line, Howie repeatedly tells me it’s ok if I want to turn around and walk down because he will escort me. Soon, a lady in front of us starts freaking out)

Freaked Out Lady: No! No! I’m not going to do this. Unhook me! I can’t do this!

Instructor: Yes you can! Look at my face! Look in my eyes! You are fine! You can do this!

Freaked Out Lady: No no I can’t! I can’t do this! Let me out!

Everyone else: Come on! You can do it! It’s ok!

Howie: It’s ok! No need to do it if you don’t want! I will assist you and walk you down!

Instructor: Everybody stop talking! Listen lady, trust me! I do this all the time. You can do it!

Howie: It’s ok if you can’t do it! No shame in it! I will help you walk down the side!

(Freaked Out Lady decides she can’t do it right away. She goes to the back of the line. I assume the next position to go down)

Cheryl: Don’t worry Howie, I will go first. Just watch me!

Instructor: Ok mister give your wife a last kiss goodbye!

Howie: (Groans)

Cheryl: She’s kidding babe!

(I cautiously start to repel down the side, it’s not so bad at all. I stand with the other people at the bottom and wait for Howie)

Howie: (Muttering about craziness and dying from up there)

Cheryl: Come on babe you can do it!

(Howie starts slowing descending down)

Friends: Look around you Howie! Look down! It’s beautiful!


(Howie takes a peak and looks down)

Howie: Oh sh*t!

Cheryl: You’re almost there! Keep going!

(Howie makes it to the bottom)

Howie: WOOOOO!

Friends: See? Wasn’t that fun?

Howie: NO!

Despite saying he did not have fun, I knew he couldn’t admit to it after making a big deal about it. I was truly impressed with Howie. His adventuresome seems to come out when we go on hoildays. I supposed we will need to go on a lot more of these…..

Do you find you’re more likely to try things out of your comfort zone when you go on vacation?

“Too Poor to Have Kids”

I came across this article in the Huffington Post, but if you don’t have time to read the article in its entirety here is the Modern Wife recap:

  • The article asserts that “young Americans are just too poor to have kids”
  • Population growth is at its all-time slowest growth rate since the Great Depression, and the birth rate has been falling since the housing bubble burst in 2007
  • Average wage of college-educated 23 to 29 year olds plunged 9% in the last decade
  • Three in 10 of these young adults are choosing to move back in with their parents rather than beginning their own households and families
  • For the first time in U.S. history, unmarried households outnumber married couples
  • Economic growth is expected to continue to be sluggish because the labor force is growing at a slower rate. Population growth is the key driver for consumer spending, housing demand, and household formation

Bottom line is, according to this article: poor economy is propelling many of us millennials to delay or opt out of having our own families.

So what exactly is going on here fellow Generation Y’ers? Are we really too poor, too down and out, too financially strapped to venture out and begin our own households? The more I considered this article the more convinced I became that the economy is just a small little piece of the “millennials aren’t reproducing” pie. We need a generational attitude shift.

I’m going to take you back to early1960 when a young couple decided to get married. Having emigrated to Canada with their respective families as children in 1950, they left behind a war-ravaged European country that had no jobs, little food, and scarce opportunities. With little more than the clothes on their backs and a few pieces of luggage, their families made the long passage across an ocean landing  on the east coast at Halifax. From there, a long train ride took them into southern Ontario. These large double-digit families rented small farmhouses built for six and worked on other Canadian farmers’ fields to make a living. Everyone, fathers, mothers, teenagers and young children pitched in.

The Dutch farming community of southern Ontario was fairly close-knit and that’s how this young couple met and fell in love. Barely past their teenage years, they got married and started their own household in much the same manner their parents did: renting and working on other people’s farms. Up until the day they got married, that young man gave his paycheque to his parents. The couple soon welcomed their first child and were thrown into parenthood in living conditions that involved outdoor bathroom facilities.

Year by year and four children later, they worked their tails off and gradually carved out a nice living for themselves. He went to night school and became a technician at a booming car plant and she became a self-employed cleaner when she wasn’t raising children. Fifty-two years later, they are retired and live in the third home they’ve owned, spend their winters in Florida, and play golf in the summer. These people were my grandparents, and they kick butt.

Considering their story, and thousands of other stories from grandparents just like them, the “we are too poor to have children” dilemma just doesn’t add up in this millennial’s mind. Are we actually too poor to have children? No. We think we are. And there’s a lot of other self-interests we want to pursue before we have them. The economy is a just handy excuse to use when you need to keep a grandchild-craving in-law at bay.

We were raised in a culture that promotes the pursuit of personal ambition. We were raised thinking things like televisions, video-games, cell phones, and iPods ranked right up there with water, food, and shelter on the list of life’s essentials. Have a family before you own your home? Shocking! Move out of mom and dad’s place before you have your own high def TV? Oh the humanity! Get married before I’m a senior manager and have a pension set? Stop! You’re killing me! These thoughts cause heart palpitations to millennials.

How can a generation who was raised with everything, be motivated to start out with less than their parents? Though our grandparents and parents had every best intention at heart in wanting to give us more than they had as children, something has become lost on us. Something to do with hard work, sweat, tears, patience, making something out of nothing, and a willingness to roll up our sleeves has become lost on the millennial generation. We want success, we want wealth, and we want it now. Children, families, and “settling down” have to take a backseat until we feel we have it all together.

Of course I am generalizing, of course there are exceptions. But take a good hard look at the 20-somethings in your life and I think you will find some truth to what I’m saying. Is it wrong to pursue a career? Is it wrong to want it all together before we start our own households and have children? Maybe not. But let’s call it for what it is.

No, we are not too poor to have children. My grandparents were too poor to have children, my parents didn’t “have it all” to have children, but they had children anyway.

Thoughts welcomed. Was I too harsh on my generation? Are we too poor to have kids?

Hockey Wives

For the record, I was never a puck bunny.* The fact that Howie and I started dating in his first year of the OHL was merely a coincidence. I did not hang around arenas scoping out hockey players, never once attended a team party and certainly never attended an ice hockey game wearing a mini-skirt. Yes, I like how Howie looks in shoulder pads, but that does not make me a puck bunny. Despite these truths, friends endearingly like to tease me with this name.

Though it’s been a while since I’ve watched Howie play competitive hockey, I was really looking forward to watching him compete in a for-charity ball hockey tournament with some friends a few weekends ago. The fact that he was playing with the new husband of my friend (and former basketball teammate) Melissa meant I had a cheering buddy. And when you get two competitive former basketball players cheering together, things can get pretty serious. When you add in a Loud Mouth who purposefully hooks* our men in the nuts, things get ugly.

The fun-loving charitable atmosphere took a turn for the worst when our men had to compete against a rather brutish oaf who clearly talked smack because he enjoyed getting a rise out of his opponents. After a few initial dirty plays and smart-aleck remarks, we soon had the entire crowd cheering for our team to spite this ridiculous Loud Mouth. At first our boys tried to maintain the higher ground, play on and ignore the fool. It wasn’t as easy for us Hockey Wives to do the same. And so the game digressed….

Here is my account of the Tale of Two Hockey Wives and the Loud Mouth

Loud Mouth cross-checks Howie across the back, Howie shoves him in the chest (so hot)

Loud Mouth: “You wanna go man?!”

Howie (who is twice his size): “Are you serious?”

Loud Mouth backs away shouting: “Ooo big tough guy eh?”

Melissa: “What is your problem?! Play the game!!”

Cheryl: “I hope you realize this is a recreational ball hockey tournament!!”

Loud Mouth: “Why are you guys even talking?! You’re not even playing!”

Melissa: “Neither are you!”

Cheryl giggles: “Shhh.. careful Melissa… he’s an idiot. We should just ignore him”

Melissa: “It’s impossible to ignore those kind of people. I can’t stand them!”

Cheryl: “I know… he’s just trying to cause trouble.”

Loud Mouth becomes excessively aggressive with Howie’s younger brother Bret, and causes a scene in which both he (Loud Mouth) and Bret end up with penalties.

Loud Mouth to Bret: “Hahaha! What a joke! You think you’re good eh? You’re the worst!”

Bret: “Wow dude. You have issues. Have you ever even got laid?”

Cheryl: “BRET! Don’t say things like that!”

Melissa: “Don’t stoop to his level Bret! He’s not worth it!”

Loud Mouth: “Hahah! I’m not worth it? Ok. Why are you still talking?”

Melissa: “Get over yourself and just play the game!”

Cheryl: (Giggles) “Nice one.”

Loud Mouth continues to do idiotic things, gets a few penalties and eventually gets kicked out of the game.

Loud Mouth: “Hahaha what a joke! They think they’re so good! They suck!”

Melissa: “Ya. Just walk off and sit down.”

Loud Mouth: “Oh really? You think you’re funny?”

Melissa: “Your FACE is funny.”

And there it was. The best line ever. When all else fails, just remember the lines from grade school playgrounds. I was laughing so hard at that point. Loud Mouth didn’t have a reply to that. Take THAT Loud Mouth!

Our boys went on to win their division championship. Howie told me I’m not supposed to reveal there was only three teams in the division how truly difficult and hard-fought the victory was. In the end, we Hockey Wives were very proud of our men and their glorious accomplishment. We stand ready to challenge anyone that would say otherwise!

* Puck bunny: Female fan of hockey players (emphasis on the player, not the game of hockey) who frequent arenas and hockey team parties for the sole purpose of hooking up with players. They severely underdress for a sport known to be played on ice.

Boeterkoek Craving

I was feeling nostalgic and craving sweets at the same time so I decided to bake up something I remembered fondly in my childhood: boeterkoek. Boeterkoek is a standard Dutch gebakje (baked good) which directly translated means “butter cake.” As with many Dutch treats, the almond extract is one of the defining flavours. The crispy top made possible by the brushing of an egg yolk before baking and the moist centre make the boeterkoek one of my all time favourite companions to a good coffee break. The recipe I used can be found here.

Howie: Looks good babe! 

Cheryl: Thanks.

Howie: You know what would make this even better?

Cheryl: (coughs) Ummm... better? Howie this recipe is a family
heirloom how dare you suggest there's something wr-

Howie: If you put fruit and whip cream on it.

Cheryl: Fruit and whip cream? What? Howie you are just supposed to 
eat it as is. We've never put fruit and whip cream on boeterkoek.

(Howie proceeds to put fruit and whip cream on his slice)

Cheryl: Pass me that fruit and whip cream.

Howie: I don't think so. You said you didn't want any.

Cheryl: Just pass it over. I have to "test" it. Just to prove this
recipe is perfect the way it is.

(I taste it, it's unbelievably delicious)

Howie: Good eh?

Cheryl: It's alright.

Dang it. He has managed to improve a perfect Dutch dessert. Why didn’t I think of that? I highly suggest you add some fruit and a little whip cream to your boeterkoek.

Young and Impulsive Once

About two months ago Howie and I decided we should go on a vacation. My plot to have Howie catch the travel bug via our honeymoon in August was an overwhelming success. He now dreams wildly about all sorts of places he’d like to go such as China, Japan, Australia, more Europe, and down South. (I still haven’t been able to convince him we should go to Africa quite yet but all that’s all in good time my dears, all in good time).

Since we are trying to be somewhat responsible with money we decided that a big trans-oceanic, multi-thousand trip would be out of the picture. So Europe, Australia, Asia… you’ll have to wait a little longer for Mr. and Mrs. Martin to make their debut. Instead, we decided we’d head down south, where many fellow Canadians go to escape the grasp of Jack Frost. Now that we knew which direction we were headed, we had to decide where and how. All-inclusive? Cruising? Caribbean? Islands? Mexico? Cuba? So many choices.

(Driving home from work one weeknight)

Howie: We need to make a decision. What are we going to do?

Cheryl: I'm open to pretty much anything. If I had to choose, I'd
like to go somewhere that has some history to it. Not just beach.

Howie: I agree. Plus, I hate being hot.

Cheryl: Well... if we are going down south it's going to be hot.

Howie: I know I just mean I hate roasting on a beach all day I
want to see something.

Cheryl: Ok well did you like the cruises we were looking at?

Howie: You know I'd love to go on a cruise. But they were a
little over our budget don't you think?

Cheryl: Yeah.... I mean, if we wanted to stay in budget we should
just go to an all-inclusive. With cruises you always get that
awful bill at the end for all the alcohol and excursions you had.

Howie: You mean all the alcohol YOU had.

Cheryl: Yes, yes whatever. It's all just every expensive.

Howie: Yah, I know. But I just love cruises.

Cheryl: Me too.


Cheryl: Should we just book it?

Howie: We could. I mean, it will only make us like $1,000 over-
budget and really, what's $1,000 over the span of a lifetime?

Cheryl: Not much really.

Howie: Exactly.

Cheryl: Plus, when we are old and dying, do we want to say,
"Oh boy. I was able to pay off school loans about 1 year earlier
because I didn't travel that April in 2012." Or, do we want to
be able to say, "That was a kick-a** vacation we took in April
2012! Thank goodness we went on that! And look, our student loans
have been paid off for decades even though we still went on that

Howie: We definitely want to be able to say the second thing.
Plus,"And look, Howie still has a full head of hair!"

Cheryl: Yah, and if we don't go now, it will be harder and harder
to go away once we start having kids and stuff. 

Howie: Yah, I mean, I can barely leave Monica at her groomers, how
would I be able to leave kids for weeks?

Cheryl: Well I still want to vacation after we have kids Howie.
But anyways, let's just do it!

Howie: Yah we're young. It's not like we don't have time to
recover from the cost of this trip.

Cheryl: Yah, if we don't do impulsive things now, we can't be as
reckless once we get older.

We had come to such a high place of freedom and “live-life now” that we had convinced each other within a matter of seconds we should just splurge and go for the cruise. Then a few days later at a wedding, we started talking to some friends that were planning on vacationing at the exact same time we were planning to vacation. Coincidence?

They were planning on an all-inclusive. Something within our original budget.

They were planning to go with another couple, did we want to join?

We decided that this had to be a sign. A way to go on a vacation within a budget, have an awesome time with other couples, and still see some amazing historical landmarks by choosing a country with some history. And so, after a little back and forth the six of us decided that the Mayan Riviera was the place for us! An adults-only, all-inclusive, ancient Mayan ruin adjacent, paradise of a vacation awaits us!

Now…. I have about six weeks to get my body in bikini condition. Ay ca rumba!

Domestically Disturbed

I am a procrastinator of the worst breed.

From opening mail, doing a load of laundry, hanging up clothes, taking items back into the house from the car, unpacking luggage, writing to my sponsored child in Guatemala, sending birthday cards to people on time, printing pictures of our wedding, to almost every little task you could imagine, I tend to postpone action until a later date instead of getting things done right away. To illustrate, this is what typically happens on a weekday evening:

(Cheryl and Howie arrive home together, usually around 7:30pm-ish)

Howie: Oh no! We forgot to take meat out of the freezer again! 

Cheryl: Augh! Why do we forget to do that all the time? 

Howie: I will walk the dog if you go get pizza...

Cheryl: How about I will walk the dog if you go get the pizza?

Howie: I don't like that as much.

Cheryl: Ok how about you walk the dog and I start defrosting meat.

Howie: How? We don't have a microwave.

Cheryl: I'll just put the package in hot water. It's fine. We
seriously have to stop eating out so much we have food here!

Howie: Ok, ok. Did you get the mail?

Cheryl: I'll get it tomorrow. Did you take out the garbage?

Howie: I'll do it tomorrow. Did you pay the hydro bill?

Cheryl: I was going to do it tomorrow.

Howie: I'll do it after supper.

Cheryl: (Reaching into dishwasher) Augh! I hate how this thing
never cleans the glasses properly!

Howie: Oh well it's just us. We'll clean them by hand before people
come over.

Cheryl: (Walking into living room) Oh Howie, look how messy it is!

Howie: Oh well who cares? We'll clean up Saturday.

So as you can imagine, when you combine a procrastinator with a gent who isn’t bothered by mess, you get a home that goes from neat and organized on Saturday morning to total chaos and anarchy by Tuesday evening. Then Saturday morning rolls around again and you clean up because you simply can’t stand the mess any longer or what is more likely, you have people coming over and you can’t let them see how you really live.

The problem with being a procrastinator is that you start an inner dialog with yourself rationalizing the situation and convincing yourself that you actually cannot complete certain tasks until you accomplish other tasks of which you have delayed action.

Case in point: I forbade myself from writing another blog post until we cleaned up our bedroom. Result: Bedroom still messy. Didn’t write a post for almost two weeks.

So from now on I’ve decided that blog posts and domestic issues will be kept on completely separate schedules, 100% unrelated to one another. In further efforts to slay the procrastination demon that lives inside me, I’ve decided to open up about my issue and expose my procrastinating life for what it truly is. The first step to recovery is admitting your problem (at least that’s what they say on Intervention) and so I will open up the door to my bedroom, let you all in. Divulge the mess for what it is. And somewhere, deep down, hope that this revelation will either a) Encourage us to never let my bedroom get like this again or b) Make me feel a whole lot better because I will find out other people live like I do. Personally I hope this accomplishes a little bit of both.

  1. Heap of clothes containing a mixture of both clean and dirty laundry. Since I can no longer tell which is which (the dirty ones have contaminated the clean ones) we will have to wash them all. Also, Monica has probably hidden her rawhide bone in here.
  2. Super expensive and awesome set of coordinating throw pillows which spend more time on the drying rack than arranged neatly on our bed.
  3. Compact drying rack that ironically spends more time holding super expensive (already dry) and awesome coordinating throw pillows than drying clothes.
  4. Our single Blackberry charger that we inconveniently plug into the wall that I need to walk by to get to my side of the bed and often trip on. Thus, unintentionally causing Howie’s charging Blackberry to become unplugged all throughout the night and cause Howie to arise to a still dead phone in the morning to which he angrily exclaims, “Cheryl! You did it again!” and I reply “It wasn’t me!” Even though it was.
  5. One of two Ikea chairs I used in university at my little dorm desk and we now use as nightstands because we haven’t bothered to find nightstands. I have two because I thought I lost my chair one summer and so I bought a chair to replace it only to discover that the first chair had been in storage in my parent’s basement all along. (See earlier musings on my propensity to lose objects)
  6. Space where second chair on Howie’s side ought to be but isn’t because we had to use it at our table for a dinner party roughly two weeks ago. Why hasn’t it been put back yet? It’s a stand-off issue between Howie and I at the moment. I’m waiting for him to put it back and I think he’s doing the same.
  7. Monica’s dog crate which she slumbers in approximately just 3 out of 7 nights a week despite the fact that I swore I would never be a pet owner that allowed a dog to sleep in my bed. You may notice it’s missing the “o” in Monica. I am planning on fixing that at a later date.
  8. Hamper that never holds the dirty clothes because we obviously like to keep our dirty clothes on the floor.
  9. Annoying window fixture that came with our condo that I’ve been meaning to replace for the whole six months we’ve been living here. It has one single defective panel that strategically allows streetlight beams to hit directly into my eye at night.
  10. Half unpacked suitcase lying in dis-array from a weekend at my parents’ 7 days ago. One small victory, Howie now packs his clothes in here instead of plastic grocery bags.)

Phew! That feels a lot better. I feel that I need to follow up this post with some sort of bedroom makeover story! How inspiring would that be? I will definitely get around to that as soon as we clean up this room.

Thoughts on procrastination welcomed!

Dorky Soulmates

When it comes to building personal relationships, there are a few things you should know:

  1. If people laugh at my jokes and attempts at humour I will love them
  2. If people “get” my weird accents I will love them even more
  3. Howie has turned me into a semi-Star Trek fan (this is irrelevant to building personal relationships but you need to know this fact for later on)

A sense of humour and a love of dorky things are very important to me. People who are very self-aware tend to have the best senses of humour. If we laugh together, we can be friends. When it comes to my romantic relationship with Howie nothing is more important to me (besides love, trust, etc) than being able to laugh and share hilarious interests together. It is imperative that Howie understands and appreciates the things I find funny.

After a year of trying to get him into Modern Family without avail I was sure our relationship was doomed. Finally, this Christmas he gave me the best gift ever; the first season of Modern Family on DVD with the promise that he would watch and “get into it.” His sounds of laughter and urge to run out and get the second season was music to my ears. Finally, I could rest assured that this marriage would last now that he understood how hilarious Phil Dunfey truly is. (See below: Exhibit A)

Laughter is a huge part of a relationship. Even for people who don’t place as high of a stake in a sense of humour as I do. If you and your sweetie-poo can be completely dorky with each other, without fearing judgement, you know you’ve found a keeper. It’s important to delve into each other’s oft hidden and embarrassing interests. I reciprocate the gesture for Howie. Now is the time to remember that bit about Star Trek. You also need to remember Howie’s obsessive interest in Survivor.

(Sitting on the couch watching Star Trek)

Me: Whoa what's this about? Was Geordi in the holodeck* that 
entire time? You mean he wasn't on a date with that chick? 

Howie: Nope! 

Me: I see. I wish we had holodecks eh? What kind of holodeck would
you progr- 

Howie: Survivor!

Me: That was a quick response. You must've thought about
Survivor holodeck before... 

Howie: Obviously. That would be so cool. I would program it so
that I couldn't lose. 

Me: What's the point in that? That isn't satisfying if you just
programmed the characters to let you win! 

Howie: Well maybe I wouldn't program them to let me win, but I
would make it so that if I got voted out it would just restart
to a point in the game where I could make a different move... 

Me: Ooo that is cool! So you could like, play and try different
strategies with the same characters until you found a way to win...

Howie: Exactly!

Me: Which characters would you want to play with?

Howie: Oh you know which ones I like... Russell, Rob,
Parvarti... basically the entire cast of Heroes vs. Villians. 

Me: I should have known. 

Howie: This sucks. Now you've got me excited about something that
could never happen. 

(Long pause)

Me: You never know Howie, with technology these days holodecks
might be invented soon... 

Howie: I meant Survivor... they will never accept Canadians.

True love means that you can laugh together, be dorky together, and “get” each other’s lameness without judgement.

When it comes to building lasting relationships, what dorky
things do you need friends or significant others to “get”?

* Holodeck: simulated reality facility located on starships and starbases in the fictional Star Trek universe