Saturday, 31 January 2009

Talking Fat #5: Pictures

Remember back in the first entry when I talked about the picture that opened my eyes and made me realize that there were issues? I’m going to be unveiling it today.

Yep...that's me on the right. This is the picture that started the whole thing :) In the education semi-formal pic, I'm on the left (duh!)

I am so close to my final weight loss goal that I am being driven crazy. The problem with loosing a lot of weight, is the mental exertion and exhaustion that goes with it. Today I found my initial registration on – November 25, 2007

While in Ottawa, March 2008

I found about a week after I began this whole process. It kills me at times. Back then, I had no idea of my actual weight. I thought I weighed about 245 pounds, and set a monthly weight loss goal of 10 pounds. I also thought that I could have this whole process finished 10-12 months after I started. I just wanted to get it done quickly and efficiently. But that’s not how it works. Like I’ve mentioned, my actual weight was closer to 300 pounds. I had not counted on plateaus, and encountering periods that I just couldn’t “diet” anymore.
I actually managed to get through from November to April with relatively little disturbance. Except for those pesky moments of wondering if I was really making any progress. In April, when I moved over to England, I fell off the wagon, so to speak. During the 3 weeks I spent in Banbury, I returned to my former beer-loving ways. Then I started to panic that I would gain weight back.

A night of sheep herding, July 2008

From May until about August I was fairly good again. I think I had about a week in July that I was absolutely sick of eating healthy and always worrying. Plus with goose patrol, and spending my days in the parks, it wasn’t like I wasn’t getting enough activity. Then in August my plateau hit. I spent the next six weeks stagnating at the same weight. Talk about discouraging! Luckily I had gotten below the 200 mark, so I was moderately encouraged.

In October when I returned to England, I was again not eating as healthy as I should have been. The advantage to this problem was that the stress of being back in England, and the constant worries made me drop about 12 pounds almost instantly. The stagnation was over!! Of course, due to the nature of how I lost the weight, I was a bit worried that it would pack on as soon as I returned home.

August 2008 with Kobalt and Simon

December came, and with it came Christmas. For the two weeks over Christmas break, I ate like there was no tomorrow. It was not entirely intentional. I was going out with friends, and indulging in foods that I had long forgotten. I actually quit weighing myself for the duration of Christmas, because I was afraid of the consequences. Apparently the binge was what my body needed – I lost another 10 pounds between December and mid-January.

November 2008, just after returning from London; Marina Park

Now that my final goal is in sight, I am back to feeling the same way I did when I began this whole process. It has definitely taken me longer to arrive than I ever expected. But again, I didn’t know where I was starting from. Every day is a challenge. Today I was going to take the day off of working out, but still did 70 sit-ups, 50 crunches and 32 minutes of weights because I am pushing towards the finish.

The reality is still that this will never truly end. I read a great article the other day regarding weight loss – the underlying messages were things that I had realized shortly after I began. You can’t change your life overnight, and this has to happen in stages. You can't have a good day every single day. And most unfortunately, there is no simple solution.
January 2009; training Panda, Ozker and Kobalt in my kitchen

**For the record, it would appear that the majority of my pics involve my dogs!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Talking Fat 4: Food Part 2

I am going to breakdown my intake based on what I eat now – though it hasn’t changed much from the beginning, except that I am up to about 1500 calories a day.

1 yogurt (either the small cup of Yoplait, Danon, etc – 35-40 calories)
½ banana
Either a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, or a cup of Special K cereal with a small amount of skim milk

This is fairly dubious. Sometimes I will eat a cup of soup (low sodium), sometimes its coffee & a muffin at Tim Horton’s. Sometimes it’s the other ½ of the banana. Other times it’s another slice of toast with peanut butter. And sometimes I don’t quite get there.

Salad – sometimes I garnish it with a small quantity of cheese; sprayed with salad spritzers (15 calories per 10 sprays!)
1 boneless/skinless chicken breast grilled (seasoned with either Mrs. Dash, bruschetta sauce, or whatever else I’m feeling)
Broccoli…lots and lots of broccoli (sometimes served with cheese)
Usually another vegetable (beans, corn, whatever)
I will also grill a pork chop periodically, but generally chicken is the food of choice.

Rule of thumb for snacking: cut it out at least 4 hours prior to bedtime or your body won’t have time to process the calories. Wasted energy.
These are the snacks that I regularly indulge in:
- coffee & muffin at Tim Horton’s – seems unhealthy but you have to select the “right” muffin; there is a lowfat blueberry muffin, and a wholegrain raspberry muffin. If I have eaten either of these, I adjust my caloric intake accordingly.
- Fruit: following my workout, I will often have a piece of fruit (generally apples or oranges). Remember though – fruits are high in sugars, and even though they are good sugars, they are still sugars.

Other Tidbits:
Because I am a snacker I have gotten into the habit of carrying candy – you have to be careful because candy can be detrimental – I choose sugar free werther’s, baskin robbins candies, etc. It gives me the illusion that I am eating a tasty and unhealthy treat. Ya. it’s about the mind games.

Water – often times you are hungry because you are thirsty. Drink lots of water.

Don’t buy it – the simplest lesson I learned: if you don’t buy it, you won’t have it to eat. Once I stopped buying cookies, chips, donuts etc, I couldn’t eat them!! So simple.

Don’t eat out every day…or even on a regular basis. Sheesh.

Oh and actually read the label on the foods you eat – look to see if there are trans fats, what the caloric breakdown is, etc. And cut out the frozen dinners. I don’t care how lean cuisinish it is…learn to cook for yourself.

Eating healthy is huge commitment. Initially I allowed myself a weekly splurge – on that day I ate everything “bad” that I could possible find. After a few weeks of doing this, I realized that it wasn’t worth it. I felt sick afterwards; and then I realized that for every day I splurged, I was adding on one or two days to this whole ordeal. Sure I have times that I don’t eat healthy – I go out to dinner with friends, there are the big holiday meals, etc. I think what you actually have to realize is that you must accommodate your splurges. I try to be careful – if I am going to have a calorie splurge, I try to compensate by either making sure I do my work out, or I forgo my coffee and a muffin, or do something to try and offset the impact.

Here is the other big thing – I try and stay away from grains, dairy, and starches (which I absolutely love!). I miss pasta, and alfredo sauces but in order to be successful it is just best that I don’t eat them. You need to realize what works for you.

After being on this “diet” for over a year, I do allow myself to eat some items that weren’t originally on my list. I will periodically indulge on chocolate – but I still need to leave it with my mom because I apparently lack self control! Once or twice a week I go to Starbucks and have their molasses cookie (mmmmmm) and a tall strawberries & cream with no whip – on those days, I adjust calories.

Oh…and green tea. I drink a ton of tea…copious amounts. You may hear that green tea is the “secret” to weight loss. I don’t really buy it – you need to drink A LOT of green tea to be able to boost your metabolism – but it is a zero calorie alternative to straight water, so I drink it.

Ultimately though, it is about finding out what works for you, and developing your own tricks and mind games. And about making healthy decisions. These are not short term changes and they aren’t applicable just for the duration of the so-called diet. When you make the decision to change your eating habits, you must maintain those changes. You can’t just eat healthy for a year and revert back to old habits. It’s hard, but it is worth it. I think anyway!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Talking Fat #3: Food for Thought (PT 1)

Food…mmmmmm. Food has been my longest and most consistent relationship. There is nothing wrong with food – unfortunately there is a difference between eating “good” food and eating empty calories that just fill you up for the short term, but ultimately lead to binge eating.

Ok, so when I started this, I was clueless how to eat. Actually, I still am – I’m just not as clueless as I was then. Make sense?

Alright, so anyway – when I got fully underway, sometime in late November 2007, I decided initially to begin by eating 1000 calories a day. Ya. That’s not so smart.

Let me clear up a big fallacy about calorie cutting. First off- one pound is equal to 3000 calories. So let’s pretend that you do absolutely nothing one day – you don’t breathe, move, your body doesn’t do anything on the cellular level, and you use 0 calories – but you somehow consume 3000 calories. You have just consumed a ton more calories than your body needed – and you gain a pound because you are doing to burn those calories up Now this is a virtually impossible scenario, because you always burn calories, even while asleep.

Same deal – now let’s pretend that you eat one thousand calories, but expend 3000. Well, simple math: you have a 2000 calorie deficit. Tomorrow you eat another 1000 calories, and expend 2000 calories – you have another 1000 calorie deficit. A pound is lost over the course of 2 days.

These are very simplified scenarios, and it is nowhere close to being so cut and dry, but it is an illustration of how all of this works.

I have read a lot of different theories on weight loss - some people say that 1 pound a week is alright – some say 2. I hold true to the belief that your body will tell you if you are being an idiot.

During the first couple of weeks that you diet, you will loose a fair amount of weight – the beginning is really easy – sometimes deceptively so. You will find yourself in the this amazing euphoria, which can make it really difficult further down the road, when your weight appears to be stuck. I will discuss the middle, during another blog entry.

Now here is the problem with purposely trying to create a substantial caloric deficit: starvation. Your body eventually has a couple of different responses. It will either enter starvation mode, which means that it will hold on to every single calorie possible – which can ultimately lead to weight gain. Another response is muscle eating – you might loose weight, but that weight is coming from the muscle that your body can’t support – not really a good thing. Another potential risk of substantial calorie shortages (and associated weight loss) is rapid weight gain – you know the people who have lost copious amounts of weight, and then suddenly gain it all back (almost overnight) with an additional 50 pounds? Ya. This is partly why.

But you still do need to have a calorie deficit to loose weight – just not a substantial one. What you need to do is work out your BMI and what it would take to maintain your weight at your given height. So if you are 5’4 and weigh 120 pounds it will take far fewer calories to maintain yourself (depending on activity level) than it will take someone who is 5’4 and 280 pounds.

Alright so I started by severely cutting my caloric intake. And to be honest, it wasn’t that bad (but again, you shouldn’t do it). In order to keep track of my intake and output, I registered on; a site that does all of the calculating for you!! Nice deal.

K..I'm leaving it there for soon ;-P

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Talking Fat Part 2

When I started this whole weight ordeal, I didn’t tell a soul. Some people need the encouragement and support of the world. I needed secrecy. I never went out and announced “Hey! I’m starting a diet on Monday!” This really isn’t a good approach to weight loss – it sort of sets you up for failure in that regard. I also didn’t “start” in the conventional sense. I did not decide on Friday that Monday would be “the” day to begin (which generally means you spend your weekend binging on every bad food that you enjoy!)…I kind of just fell into a beginning.

Ok let me clear something up first – I have started many, many, many diets on Monday. I have also started many diets “tomorrow”. I have fallen off many diets the following day, and decided that I would just finish binging for that 24 hour period and begin again the next day…or the following Monday…or I would just stop for the weekend and start over…and so on…and so forth…

What I am trying to stay is that it doesn’t work.

Here is the other thing. When you decide to start, you have to want it. You can’t just do it because society says so…or because Cosmo wants you to….or because that size 10 dress would look hot on you…You really need to want it. I say that I can’t commit – but the truth is, if you are obese and you want to change your life, this is the hardest of commitments.

I know, if you have never had this battle, you can probably look at it from the health perspective – it’s just plain healthy to eat right, and be thin – uh huh…f*ck off (sorry, that’s Northern Ontario terminology for…f*ck off). Here is my advice to someone who has never gone through this or is a fatist: pick one area of your life and change it completely – undo your programmed regime, and start something new. Not so simple is it?

Now let me make something else clear – I’ve never read a diet book. I have taken no guidance from a dietician. I have not been helped by a personal trainer, watched videos, or participated in fad diets. I belonged to a gym in 2007; I hated it and quit. I never went. I’ve never belonged to Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, or any other organization. I haven’t had a support group. I will acknowledge that these options do work for some individuals. Not me. This was a personal struggle.

So let me get back on track. I began this in mid-November of 2007. One day, I got up and decided that I should really start walking again. And so I did. I started off by walking about 2.5 km a day. Being that it was November, I realized that it would be a difficult commitment because I dislike winter, and horrendous temperatures would soon be upon me. But I trudged along…

A week or so later, I realized that walking was great, but generally pointless without changing something else. Hmmm…maybe eating chocolate bars, stopping at Tim Horton’s for donuts, and indulging in a multitude of high calorie junk really wasn’t a good idea….
And so over the course of two weeks, I changed my whole lifestyle. I went from a semi active fat person willing to eat any crap that passed in front of her, to a fairly active fat person who was *trying* to eat healthy.

So…eating healthy…I need to clear something up about that…

Often you hear about people who travel, finding themselves experiencing diarrhea and other maladies thanks to the local cuisine. Likewise, when I decided to clean up my eating habits, I experienced many of the same symptoms. I’m not going to claim that the initial phases of healthy eating are pretty. They aren’t. If you have conditioned your body to living on crap, your body will not positively respond to a sudden change. I didn’t eat vegetables. I did not eat salad on a regular basis. Oh and fruit – I HATED fruit (unless it was mixed with alcohol). I will fully admit that the first 10 pounds I lost were probably the result of being sick as a dog from eating healthy. Don’t get me wrong; it was worth it.

Ok, now here is the other thing. Because I never actually “started” this, I never weighed myself when I started. Remember in the last blog when I said that it was 9.5 years before I weighed myself? Ya. I began changing my habits in November 2007, and it was July 2008 before I stepped onto a scale (we can discuss that ordeal later). Here is what I know…
Based on pictures, on what I have been told, and on what the scale said in July, I began this whole experience weighing in somewhere around 300 pounds. I’m 5’5. I’ve never looked at the BMI of a 5’5 person weighing 300 pounds, but it can’t be good. If you need to visualize…when I sat down at McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s or whichever other fast food restaurant, I wore the table.

But really, what I am trying to point out here is that this was never about a diet. It is about a lifestyle change. On a so-called “diet” you expect to return to your normal routine once you have shed your 15 pounds. Realistically though, if you are truly overweight, you can never return to your former habits. Once you make the commitment to change your lifestyle, you have to hold true to it.

Ok…so that’s it for today…I have to get some stuff done…but in the next entry you can look forward to the food portion of this change ….some days I miss it!

London to Everest

It's the moment of will I or won't I?
It is the same moment that you realize you are apart of the television generation: every night I feel like I walk away from a cliffhanger ending, and stamp "To be continued...." across my forehead. I even have theme music - Jon Bon Jovi's "Queen of New Orleans" - which has nothing to do with London, but it takes me back to my NOLA days.

London was my Mount Everest. I have no desire to conquer Everest, and I've lost my desire to conquer London. And I think I just wrote the finale ;)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


Because I have a bunch of things to get done, I am instead attempting to figure out how to change "things" on blogger. I have a pretty short attention span, and I am really bored of the free templates that blogger provides. While I could read the directions on how to go about changing my template, that just seems too time consuming. My sleep deprivation is giving me the equivalent of ADD, so an easier solution is to figure things out by trial and error. Unfortunately in this case, trail and error could mean accidently deleting the entirety of my blog.

I have to admit - I am kind of junky when it comes to the internet (there is still a 3-dimensional world, right?). I finally bit the bullet and purchased Adobe Photoshop - again, not a great program for a person with a short attention span. My first attempt at Photoshop was the new header at the top of the page.

There is really no point to this entry - I'm just hoping that someone out there might stumble across this and explain how to change my template without screwing up my frenziedhaze - step by step, simple instructions. I do have a moderate understanding of HTML, but going through the HTML on my blog is like walking into the movie half way through.

OK...that's really all I have to say.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Talking Fat Part 1

**This will be the first in a series of entries of highlighting weight. There is just too much to say in one entry!

Recently I stumbled across the blog of a 22 year old, who is striving to loose weight. Topping the scales at about 315 pounds, she has realized that she needs to change her life. I will admit that I respect her ability to make her struggle public, and appreciate that she has been brave enough to post pictures showing her pre-diet physique. I haven’t spent a lot of time looking over weight loss blogs; mainly because I didn’t realize that so many people chronicled their lives in this online community. Several months ago I found a blog entitled “I have bones!!” also highlighting the challenges faced by one dieter. I kind of laugh at the title, because I can empathize with it – seeing my clavicles, and being able to feel the bones in my hands and feet, after all these yeas, is somewhat of a novelty. Plus I specialized in bones…so you know…

It is ironic that I should be sitting next to my workout class instructor while I’m writing this blog (a bit of guilt materializes as I have not been present in her class for the past two weeks).

I’ve briefly mentioned by weight struggles in this blog, but have never really touched the heart and soul of the battle. Over the course of the past several months I have had numerous people stop and ask me what sort of diet I have been on – the truth is, I am not on a diet. It is not about South Beach, Atkins, Mayo Clinic, Weight Watchers, or the sundry of other fad diets that exist in this world. No, if you are substantially overweight, it is not about “dieting”. It is about changing your lifestyle. When I started this challenge, I was substantially over weight…errr…ok…I was obese.

How did I get there?

I would love to say that it was a genetic predisposition to obesity. But it’s not, and I am not entirely certain that I believe in that mentality. My parents were both overweight, but they were far from stellar examples of proper eating habits. So no, I can’t say that I have a genetic predisposition to obesity. While I have Italian and Polish ancestry (*insert ethnic jokes here*), and while the general stereotype of both cultures includes a tendency towards plumpness, I don’t use that as my excuse. Furthermore, both cultures include a heavy reliance on foods laden with starches and carbohydrates. That could potentially explain the plumpness exhibited in both. No, I can’t believe that I was genetically predisposed.

I know the evolutionary excuse for obesity: throughout human history there has been a tendency towards periods of famine. Over time, the human body adapted itself to these periods by evolving a mechanism to ensure that calories were stored for later utilization. In modern times, and in the Western World, we do not go through those periods, but are still inclined to eat like there is a possibility that famine could occur. Hence we are obese. Or something like that. No. I don’t believe that I my fat was the product of evolution, or that I am some ultra-adapted human form (and for the sake of humanity, let’s pray that I am not natural selection’s answer to evolution!)

No, I got to the point of obesity through hard work and determination. I started university in a fairly good place, health and weight-wise. I was religious about working out, and was desperate to be that thin, pretty blond in class. And then exams happened. And then I started to loath working out – if I missed a day I beat myself up incessantly (working out can be a detrimental obsession). My ex boyfriend spent a week long vacation at my house – after he left I weighed myself, and was shocked to see that in the course of 6 weeks I had gained about 20 pounds. How did that happen????? That was 1999 and it would be 9.5 years before I would step onto another scale.

I was very careful about not acknowledging my weight gain. I have done a fair bit of travelling and would decline having my pictures taken at all expense. If I couldn’t see it, it wasn’t real. I wouldn’t go to the doctor – because doctors like to weigh their patients. Gradually over time more weight packed on. It is actually quite amazing how quickly it can happen. It took no time at all to go from a size 13 to a size 26 (yep, that’s where I peaked!). Oh it helped that I had a love for beer (and copious quantities of it), junk food, pop, and foods saturated in fats, butters, etc. I loved bread. Adored donuts. There was no cut off point either. During times of stress or uncertainty I ate. It also helped that I lived in a city that seemed to pride itself in unhealthy lifestyles. Sorry Thunder Bay, but we are fat, and alarmingly so.

Now – how could I let my body get so out of control?? Did I not notice what was happening? I think the benchmark of being obese is being able to look in the mirror and not see it. Even when photos were accidently taken of me, there was no actual registering of the problem. Plus there was the other factor: I was active. Considering I was fat, I never truly felt fat. I didn’t have the back aches, ill health, diabetes, etc. I participated in dog training. I hiked, backpacked, lifted weights, etc. I remember hiking up hill in the 100 degree heat in Guatemala with a pack strapped to my back, and being able to do it without backing down. People tell me I must feel so much better now – but the truth is, I never felt bad.

Ok so if I didn’t notice, what actually happened? I would love to say there was a warning sign that initiated the change. There wasn’t. Here is the truth – it was strictly society and vanity. First off, I started to find fatist groups on Facebook. What is a fatist? A person who hates fat people – fairly straight forward right? The Brits actually host a surprising number of these groups. Then there was the fact I had a crush on a guy who I knew would never like me if I was the size of a house (which is the absolute wrong reason to loose weight!). Let me just clear something up right now: if a guy (or a girl) couldn’t feel for you before you lost the weight, they aren’t worth your time once you have. Then there was Valerie Bertinelli (oh yes)…her comment about starting a New Year without having to worry about her weight was definitely an inspiration. Ok, and then there was the idea of turning 30 and not wanting to spend another decade trapped by my weight. And the idea of wanting to travel and not having to be stared at by cultures who are stunned by “giant North Americans”. All of these things were swirling in my head…

And then came the straw that broke the camels back…

The picture…
The one that got through….

My friends and I met at Kelsey’s one afternoon in late 2007. One of my friends was expecting a baby (rather soon), and we were celebrating the impending birth. A photo was snapped of the three of us together and there it was…I was bigger than my pregnant friend. Huh…who knew???

I enjoy talking on chat programs like MSN, Skype etc – but generally declined to share my picture. It was so much effort to snap a picture that hid the evidence of my fat. If you have been down this road, you will know – angling your head to disguise the double chin, lengthening the neck…and if all else fails – lean back and hold the camera above your head and let your fat droop back.

But there was the picture that didn’t hide it.

So with all of these things circling in my head, and the picture to top it off, I knew it was time to change. And that’s where I’ll leave it for today….

London Looming

There comes a point when you have to be honest with yourself. I have zero desire to return to London. I think I have crossed the threshold of comfort and complacency. Actually, it’s not London – it’s teaching. I have said it before, and I will say it again – if I were in a profession that I absolutely loved, it would different. But I’m not. There are so many deadweight teachers occupying the profession, that I can’t just be one more. I can still fake my enjoyment for it; there are many who can’t. I am tired of seeing those teachers, obviously miserable in their career, sticking it out because of the financial perks, benefits and vacation time. It’s not fair to the students.

Then there are the travel teachers – they drive me crazy too. It is like a whole other scale of deadweight. You know – the individuals who think they qualify as a “teacher” because they took a weekend TESOL/TEFL course. And why? For the opportunity to have bragging rights. If you want to be a teacher, go and get some formal training. Many formally trained teachers have spent ample time working in schools (in positions other than teaching) and/or volunteering. Then there was the additional commitment of teacher’s college. Afterwards there are the additional professional development obligations. If you want something to compare it to: think of the office gopher being promoted to CEO of a multinational corporation after a week of gophering. Yes, weekend teaching courses irritate me. It’s unfortunate that the international market doesn’t have higher expectations.

Along with having spent a ton of time working in schools, and a moderate amount of time volunteering, I have also taken a fair amount of Professional Development. My interest in teaching jumps back and forth, and yet I know I still have no long term aspirations to remain in the profession. Maybe I just haven’t found my niche in teaching? Maybe there is just something inherently wrong with me and commitment? Maybe I have just spent too much time listening to and observing disgruntled teachers, that my illusion has been ruined? While in London I was irritated by teachers who were miserable but in love with their daily pay rate (£) – isn’t there something more to this profession? I came home just as our provincial teaches were voicing their discontent – again. Today my cousin said to me “Well you know teachers – they don’t want to work or teach.” And no – I don’t believe that, but our continued complaints can certainly be perceived that way.
Yep, I’m ranting because I’m overtired. What am I going to do? Who knows….

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Sleep deprived & Murky

As I sit here, attempting to thaw out, I realize that I am completely exhausted. I am tired of dealing with a mind that never, ever shuts off. I have trouble going to sleep at night, because my brain is in overdrive. Last night I could barely stay awake – I finally went to bed, and felt no inspiration to sleep. Finally somewhere around 4:30 I willed myself to sleep – only to wake up a couple hours later thanks to a nightmare. Sleep deprivation is giving me bad dreams that I wake up from, even more tired than when I went to bed

I’ve spent the past couple of days at Lakehead, working at the Education Fair. Recruiting teachers to go to London. I’ll admit that I have kind of enjoyed it – I think I would rather talk and recruit than actually teach. It’s nice to be able to talk to teachers who still have an idealized perspective of teaching, are clueless as to the behaviour management issues in London, and are generally naïve. It is kind of refreshing – I never had that over-exuberant teaching stage, because I had already been working in school for so long. I already knew some of the realities that a lot of NQT’s are not aware of. In some ways it was good, and in other ways it has been detrimental to my wanting to remain in teaching.

It has been two years since I was in the Faculty of Ed. and there now seems to be a better understanding about the state of education. Two years ago, we all had great plans of being hired by school boards in Ontario (and Faculties of Education will give you the impression that there are plenty of jobs out there – in space). These new teachers seem to know that teaching jobs are few and far between. I kind of joked about it at the fair yesterday; I would tell potential candidates “The great thing about a teaching degree, is that you can work anywhere in the world – except for Ontario.”

I miss Café Nero’s hot chocolate. I’m drinking Starbucks right now, and it’s not the same. That has nothing to do with anything…

Honestly I have a bucket of complaints at the moment, an things that I could go on about, but I really don’t have it in me right now.

The state of employment in Thunder Bay is becoming increasingly bad. No surprises there. I have lost the majority of my motivation regarding my thesis. Also not a huge surprise. I guess I’m feeling a little bit disillusioned with education – not teaching, but education in general. Other than teaching, I’m not sure that I have any employable skills. I had been considering grad school, but it seems like a huge commitment that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a job. I’d like a job.

Ok, I’m beating a dead horse that the moment. If you don’t mind, I need to retreat back into my murky head.

Thursday, 15 January 2009


It is -30° today. Wait...that's without the windchill added on. Environment Canada has been nice enought to post the following warning:

WIND CHILL WARNING: City of Thunder Bay Issued at 5:05 AM EST THURSDAY 15 JANUARY 2009


"Bitterly cold"...that is the description. I have some better choice words - none of which should be published here.

Tomorrow it is supposed to improve though; it will be a balmy -20°.

I'm not prepared to leave the warmth of my bed. For a real kick in the balls, its 6° in London (plus not minus).

Saturday, 10 January 2009

To Lay or Not To Lay in the Same Pile or a Different One

Oops…I fell off the face of the earth – or so it would seem. So…Happy New Year…hope you are enjoying yourself!
So what’s up in the world?? Economic devestation…conflicts…the occasional natural disaster…ya that pretty much sums it up. Apparently 2009 is going to resemble 2008 – seriously; if ever there were a moment to say “same sh*t, different pile”, this would be it...

Where am I? Sipping my Americano at Starbuck, listening to the three guys sitting next to me complain about women and divorces. Thinking about life. Same sh*t, different pile. Or maybe I haven’t even gotten to the different pile yet; I might still be working on the same pile. Lululemon and snow came to Thunder Bay over Christmas. I am tired of both; designer yoga pants and icy flakes aren’t really things that peak my interest. Even so, it doesn't matter where you go in Thunder Bay, you see both in ample quantities. And its when you start to ponder Lululemon and snow that you realize you are stagnating.

Over Christmas I reacquainted myself with complacency. I am so content in my little world of familiarity – it permits me to stagnate and maintain a noncommittal life. I enjoy defying expectations – mainly the expectations of others. Defying expectations is sometimes a good thing (like for the student who is expected to earn a C and defies odds to earn an A); for me, defying expectations means doing the exact opposite of what I have the potential to do. Where I have the potential to scale Everest, I decide to shock everyone and opt to climb Mount McKay (and then give up half way) – by the way, this is a metaphor, and I will likely never actually climb Everest - or Mount McKay. I don’t know where or why I developed this quality – it’s like I woke up one day and realized that I was tired of being predictable, or grew tired of having expectations placed on me. In Banbury a friend of mine said, “L*anne…I expect that you are going to stay in England for a long time.” I heard that…and it kept going over and over in my head. Expectation…oops…can't have that. That same friend predicted that I would stay in London indefinitely.....Somewhere along the way I found safety in failing.

I came back to Thunder Bay with the full intention of going back to London. Then something bizarre happened over Christmas – I lost my desire. I would actually rather stay in Thunder Bay than ever go back. It began to occur to me that I wasn’t sure if I could put myself back through England and the upheaval. Stagnating in my complacency.

A couple of nights ago I downloaded the pilot episode of “Being Erica”, a new television show on the CBC. The main character is 32 years old, educated, and full of potential. She can’t commit to a decent job, future, man, anything…has made a series of bad decisions that have ultimately sealed her fate as a “loser”, defying the expectations of those around her. I could barely watch it – and I’m sure I don’t have to explain why. But in case you aren’t up to speed; I see myself in that character. She is given the opportunity to go back and fix the mistakes she made; I won’t get to that. I did kind of like the idea of listing all of the mistakes she made though…I could do that…where to start….ok that’s a blog entry all unto itself…

So here is where I am (outside of the physical moment). I have been offered a job with a new agency. Yes, the “dream” agency….to go back to London in a little over a week. It comes with the opportunity for housing (less stress!!)…with a more guaranteed work scheme…a six month contract….a six month contract…sh*t…commitment…I don’t do commitment. Oh yes, its inevitable; I have to commit to something; there comes a point in a person’s life that they have to face adulthood and commit to creating a financially secure future. 30 is knocking on my backdoor, and I feel that I might be at the stage where I might actually have to commit to something. I don’t commit though – I’ve been seeing a man for some time now, I don’t know how long exactly, because neither of us commit but neither of us is trying to see someone else. I just don’t commit. To anything. Seeing a contract makes me shudder…having to sign one makes me heave.

There are other issues at play here – I have to go and I hate that. I would love to make this decision free of debt, and already living in a city ripe with jobs. But when there are no other options, and your financial life is suffocating you, it becomes necessary to take the opportunities that are presented to you. And I hate it. Feeling forced to return to London is shattering me. I would love the stress free experience, but it is just not going to be that way. I made my bed, now I must lay in it.

Then you start to go back to all of those decisions that ultimately led you to this moment in your life. And to the moment that you realized you were stagnating in your comfort. And then you suffocate a little more.

I have been told, six months is not that long. And it’s not. Until you face reality and anxiety replaces the old comfort. Each day can become a struggle, and every moment becomes a lifetime. Let’s face it – its not really six months, is it? I’m in debt…there are no jobs here…it’s not just six months. Live one day at a time. That is virtually impossible, when life is looming over you. So what am I saying then? Pretty much that I’m stuck in the same sh*t, different pile. Now if you don’t mind, I must go buy some sheets for my bed; if I have to lay in it, I want 400 thread count percale.