Day 9: Date Day

Day 9 is actually Take a Woman on a Date day, but since I’m flipping this all around for my particular orientation and I fall into the ‘in a relationship’ category, I’m going to be planning a date for my significant other. Since he reads this, I can’t tell you the ideas I’ve come up with, and anyway they’re terrible. It’s like I’ve never planned a date before. But I have! Loads! Okay, at least three.

Anyhow, I’m taking suggestions. No sexy parties, please, my brother reads this.

While I’m encouraging comments, what do you think about dating in a relationship? I don’t mean open relationships, though I’m happy to hear opinions on that, I mean actually making sure that you manage to get out of the house with your significant other and, as AoM says, “Ditch the whole pizza and Netflix routine and really get out and do something new and different.”

Because really, the siren song of pizza and Netflix is crazy loud.

As much as I sometimes cringe at the idea of Date Nights, I get it. You need to make sure you do stuff together. Otherwise you’ll just get old and sick of each other and not have any new stories to tell, and you’ll turn into some new-generation version of Archie Bunker. “Eeeedith! Get those hoverboard hippies off my lawn!”

So, to sum up:

Dates with significant others? And-
Date ideas for me?

I think in the spirit of this one, I’m going to end with my favourite real love song, which I stole from a friend’s wedding mix, because otherwise my favourite love song would still be the theme song from ‘Enterprise’.

Oh, okay. I’ll put them both. Stop nagging.

The very best is Shine, by Daniel Lanois. This will give you mosquito-eyes.

Oh! They added the lyrics below the video! Bonus.

And since you asked:

You guys, I hope you appreciate how long it took me to find one that the fanboys hadn’t managed to make even more cheesy.

Over to you, and tomorrow, on to Day 10: Memorize ‘If’. (Shit.)

A Brief Aside from the Manject

“Terror leaves you when you despair; once you let yourself hope again it returns redoubled.”
– Spider Robinson, Callahan’s Lady

A couple of weeks ago, I missed taking the magic pills for about four days in a row. I didn’t even really notice, actually – friends were visiting (Snazzy & husband-of-Snazzy, whom I shall call Snazzer) and everything was busy and we were all going to bed late and, and, and. So on. You see how it goes. The point is, after they left, I had a day where I drank WAY TOO MUCH COFFEE and crashed. Hard. I don’t know what effect the coffee had, but I’m sure it was part of the problem. (Does anyone know? Caffeine, anxiety, etc. – seems like there’s a clear link.)

Possible devil coffee.

Anyway, there I was, lying on the couch in a very old familiar way, with some dark pissy thoughts caught in a loop. It took me a few hours to realize what was happening and put it all together, but once I did I had the following thoughts:

1. PANIC. Dear god, I missed four days. FOUR. That’s nothing! I mean, it’s something, but it’s nothing in the grand scheme. Am I going to be like this forever, then? Am I going to have to take these pills until the day I die? Because as much as I spout off about how even if I do, it’s better than the hopeless spiral, I don’t want to. I want to get back to me. Gwen A! (That will only make sense if you’ve read this.) Without drugs. That’s a new truth.

At that moment, a helpful friend happened to call and said things like, “Tell me again what the highest success rate is? A year – at which point you’re supposed to go off them in a controlled manner. Right. And how long have you been on these? Five months. Have you considered calming down?”

So I did. Helpful friends are priceless. That led to this:

2. Dude. That was actually a big step. I went all spirally, I went back to the dark scary stuff in my brain, and then I recognized it. That’s huge. Massive. Monolithic. (Enough synonyms.) While I couldn’t talk myself out of the feeling itself, I was able to start putting into practice my healthy behaviours, because even when you feel like shit, you can go for a walk. And take a bath. And make a healthy meal. And go to bed early. (And take your damn pills.)

And I woke up feeling like me again.

That’s all, really. It was a bad little episode with some rays of sunshine in it. Given the stuff I took from it, I’m actually a little bit glad it happened, and I’ve been meaning to write it up for a while.

(And I’m down to one cup a day, but I will not give it up. Mmm, coffee.)

I have no wrap-up sentence, so I’m just going to –

Day the Seventh: Reconnect with Old Friends, or: The Story of Snazzy

Since the aforementioned company staying at my house was an old friend, and I hadn’t seen her properly in years (I went to her wedding, but have you been to one of those things? They’re insane. Nobody gets to talk to the bride, except the groom, and even then he has to say some very specific things.)

So. This friend – I’ll call her Snazzy – is one of my Click Friends. This is a term I just made up for a friend with whom you have an instant connection upon meeting. I actually ONLY have Click Friends, because I’m lazy and don’t like to put in anything which could be considered effort, so if someone doesn’t work for me right away I don’t bother. (People who are my friends, you can assume you’re worth a fair bit to me and I probably think very highly of you.)

Snazzy was a click friend. We met through our man-friends very early on in our respective relationships, so I can track our friendship along the same timelines as my relationship (around five years). My friendship with Snazzy went like this:

1. Meet briefly at random Geology conference. Random for me; Snazzy is a geologist and thinks rocks are SUPERFUN.

2. See photo of Snazzy in local newspaper where she is flying through mid-air, about to check someone else during a hockey game. Think to self: Snazzy is hardcore. Decide to keep her. (Snazzy is, at this point, probably blissfully unaware of me.)

3. Find self surrounded by new-boyfriends’ friends in restaurant made of picnic tables. Make half-assed attempt at loud conversation. Fail miserably. Snazzy is too far away.

– One Year Passes –

4. Go to wedding of yet another friend-of-boyfriend. (Do you all just turn 30 and decide to get married at the same time? Because it’s hell on my shoes.) See Snazzy! Rekindle love of Snazzy. At this point, have spent a grand total of maybe two hours with her.

– One Year Passes –

5. Snazzy phones me out of the blue. (Men must have traded phone numbers?) She’s going to Miami for an old friend’s baby shower. Do I want to go? Check calendar. Have nothing to do except shitty, hateful job. Take two weeks off work. Leave for Miami six days after phone call.

6. Meet Snazzy in Miami. Wonderful fun times ensue (in Florida! Who knew?) Snazzy turns out to be a perfect travel buddy for me, as she is also notoriously clumsy and late for airplanes. My awesome heels get the shit kicked out of them. Both of our names get called on the PA system when we leave Florida in the ‘Final boarding call for…’ style.

– One Year Passes –

7. See Snazzy at another wedding. (Seriously.) Share house. Fun times ensue.

– One Year Passes –

8. Snazzy gets married in Newfoundland and is busy getting hitched so I don’t see her for more than a few minutes. I understand, and am happy because she is SHINING with love for her new husband. It’s beautiful. I cry a little, but pretend to have mosquitoes in my eyes.

9. Snazzy, now married for seven months, comes to my hometown for Canadian Ranger Training. (WHY, SNAZZY, WHY?) She comes to my house for three days. We talk about nothing, eat, go to the beach, eat, and talk about everything.

10. Snazzy goes home, but I am reconnected and refreshed with my new/old friend.

So, she’s a click friend. (Yeah, I’ll stop writing in that annoying Bridget-Jones’-Diary style now.) I’ll be lucky to see her before 2015, but it will be just as if she’d never left.


However! The Manject specifically says: “So your task today is to make like men of old and reconnect with a friend, either by letter, phone, or email. Wild dogs shall be released upon any man who attempts to complete this task via Twitter.”

In that vein, I have also written a letter to my oldest friend. I’ve known her since we played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at recess in second grade. She introduced me to Star Trek. She’s grown into a phenomenal, fascinating woman, and in honour of the old days, I’m going to write her a letter.

I think I’ll stop short of taping songs off the radio for her, though. The DJ always cuts in on the last few notes . . .

Back on track, guys. Tomorrow is Day 8: Start a Journal.

Day, um, Five: Cultivate Your Gratitude

“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.”
Robert Burns

Day 5: Cultivate your Gratitude

Right now, I’m grateful that I can take over a week off of something and no one shouts at me or takes away my paycheck. So – After a while of not keeping up with this, my house guests are gone and life has returned to normal. As normal as it gets, anyway.

I do feel like there should be some sort of consequence for flaking out of the Manject though, so at the end of the thirty days I will take on three extra tasks – either suggested by readers or random things I find. I’ll start a new thread for that when it’s time – Day 29, or so – for now, I want to get back to gratitude:

Part One: Make a List

It would be pretty easy to make a generic list (I’m grateful for my family, friends, partner, etc) but I’m going to try to go more specific, as the Manject says: “remember gratitude will really work its magic in your life when you start taking notice of the great layers of pleasure present in everyday things. “ So I’m not going to talk about people until step #2; instead I will focus on things which make my day-to-day life a little (or a lot) better.

Here we go. I am grateful for:

1 – My dog, who forces me out of the house every day no matter the weather and reminds me that rain and snow are not things that will kill me (in the course of a walk, anyway).

2 – Whoever invented Sigg water bottles. Frickin’ brilliant.

3 – Burlesque dance. It makes the world a better place with it’s irrelevant silliness.

4 – The little fireplace in my house. Mmmm, fireplace.

5 – Whoever invented espresso, which is the only way I can drink coffee. (Why is that? Anyone? Anyone? Buhler?)

6 – A buddy-community online of writers to whom I can ask questions like “Would you flinch if I used aluminum silicate?”

7 – How great rooms look in my house when I have painted over the puce-green put there by the former occupants with RED.

8 – My backyard. I have a backyard! How lucky am I?

9 – My boyfriend’s job, which allows me to go to the doctor and dentist and gym.

10 – My bike. It’s shiny and red and goes super fast!

Task 2 is to thank individual people. I’m going to do that by letter (Handwritten! In my crappy five-year-old printing!) so I’m not going to spoil it by putting them down here.

Task 3, I’m adding myself. Tina Fey wrote this book, and I just finished reading it again. In it, she suggests that all women should make a list of things they love about their bodies. So here we go – eating money – I’m going to put this on the bloody blog.  Yup. Right now.

*** Sorry for the oddness of the list. I wrote this in Word a few days ago, and it’s being pissy, and I can’t be half-assed to fix it.

  1. My hair. I have bleached the living shit out of this stuff, sometimes quite literally: when I was sixteen I put javex in my shampoo. You know. Just to see. It’s was so dirty and dry when I was travelling once that when I tried to put it back in a ponytail, it broke off. Not a few strands. A big hunk of it. My head looked lopsided for a month. But you know, it still grows, and I’m proud of it. Way to go, hair. I’ll keep trying to kill you; you keep thwarting me at every turn.
  2. My hands. My fingers are short and stubby and weirdly knobbly, and my fingernails look…erm…like someone bites them… But when I was little and complained to my grandmother she said, very seriously, that I had “The hands of someone who can work,” and that I should be proud of them. And I am.
  3. My freakish strength. I should not be as strong as I am; I know this. I’m grateful for whatever genetic blessing is happening here.
  4. My toes. Each toe, in descending order from the Biggest Of Toes, is a little smaller than the one beside it. I’m glad. They look all tidy, and fit well in shoes.
  5. My shoulders, which are wide and strong, like my Grandmother’s – the other one – were. Shoulder pads? We don’t need no stinkin’ shoulder pads! (However, the nineties would have suuuuuucked if I’d been old enough to feel any sort of fashion obligation. Wait, I’ve never been that old…)
  6. My knees. In order from right to left, my knees are covered in:

    a. Rollerblading scars from when I tried to learn on a hill called ‘Mountain Highway’. In retrospect, I should have known.
    b. A scar from where I broke my leg, falling off a cliff while playing glow-in-the-dark capture the flag on a women’s camping weekend
    c. The scar from stepping off my dad’s motorcycle and falling onto the exhaust pipe (Yes! I am graceful)
    d. Little dotted white scars from being stung by a sea anemone while diving in the Phillipines
    e. A scar from getting twisted up in a hammock and falling on my ass when a monkey jumped at me in Costa Rica.

And they’re still there, all knee-shaped and everything? Aren’t they amazing? Some of my favorite memories are lodged in the scars on my knees.

7. My eyes. They’re somewhere between the shade of blue of everyone in my family, but still uniquely mine.

8. My butt, because it doesn’t know any dance moves, but still likes to shimmy.

9. My legs, because they have never failed to carry me anywhere I want to go, regardless of how steep the incline – no small feat, in BC.

10. My flexibility, which falls under the same category as my strength, in that I have no idea why it is this way. I do some yoga here and there, but I think I’ll attribute this to my mother – so Mom – thanks for the bendiness. J

That’s gratitude for ya. I’d highly recommend the lists, as they make us think, and the letters, which have made me REALLY aware of what I’ve been given by the people in my life.


Day 6: Update your Resume

As far as writing new posts go, this is a fairly easy one as I have recently had to create a C.V. for a program application. I recently picked up a Groupon for these guys and had a resume update done professionally. I’ve also sent it off for review to a lovely friend of mine who does this sort of self-marketing thing for a living, so between all of this and my new mentor (yay!) I’m feeling pretty well set up.

All that said, my resume was sorely – five years, at least – out of date. I think resume formats change with each new software and each new version of that software that comes available, so the AoM blog makes a good point in the use of keeping it updated. This way I’ll have one ready to go when a new job or program comes up, and I want to apply – no messing around with having to do all that fiddly formatting that drives me insane.

AoM has a few really good points to make about why you should update your resume, and several more good links included on how to make it effective. I especially vote for the note on eliminating spelling and grammar mistakes. (I would certainly throw out a resume that crossed my desk for the wrong ‘your’ v. ‘you’re’.)

One point that I would add: These days, I think it’s a good idea to also be updating your info on websites like Linkedin. I’m not sure how much power they have, but if you’re using the website, then you owe it to yourself to go ahead and use it properly!

Tomorrow is Day 7: Reconnect with Old Friends – particularly easy since I happen to have a couple kicking around!

Day 5: Regarding Gratitude – Bookmark

Hey all,

Today (really, yesterday) is ‘cultivating gratitude’ day. Since I have friends visiting from out of town and I really, really want to give this post the time and attention it deserves, I’m going to bookmark this post to be completed at a later date. (I’ve decided I can do this, since I’m really just policing myself, here.)

So, more to come.

Day 4: Increase Your Testosterone

Today I’ve been given the task of increasing my testosterone. I decided I didn’t want to change that because a: Women also have, and need, a small portion of testosterone, and b: Most of the things on their list are things I can do.

So. There’s a long list; you’re to choose a minimum of three things. Since most of them are things I could stand to do, I chose:

  1. Get at least 8 hours of sleep tonight.
  2. Do resistance training.
  3. Do no eat anything with soy in it.
  4. Eat a serving of good fat.
  5. Eat a serving of animal protein.
  6. Eat a serving of cruciferous vegetables.

Most of these are food things, so I figure numbers 3 through 6 are all in one. To that end, here’s breakfast:

The avocado on there is good fat and oh so delicious! 8 hours of sleep, well, I’ll report on that in the morning, but thanks to the magic pills I haven’t had much trouble getting to sleep lately. There’s also a wonderful Valerian tea that helps, and once I find the box, I’ll put up a link for anyone who wants to find it.

Okay, so, Eat good fat – Check. Dinner will be chicken and veggies, and I’ll post a photo later.

Soy – I’m not even going to go into how many foods contain soy. It’s insane. Pretty much the only way a lazy label-reader like myself can get around it is to only eat whole, fresh foods. Don’t eat soy – Check. Here’s a partial list from the Canadian Government on foods containing soy – just enough to give you an idea of the scope of it.

For my resistance training, I went to the gym and did an upper body workout. Resistance training – Check.

Animal Protein and cruciferous vegetables. (Am I the only person who immediately associates this with the cruciatus curse from Harry Potter? DIE SCREAMING, vegetables!) So, dinner was steak, potatoes, and broccoli. Eat a serving of Animal Protein – Check, and Eat a serving of cruciferous vegetables – Check.

Barring a short/lousy sleep, I’m going to call this task done. Do I feel more manly? Not really. But I do feel pretty great – it’s almost as if exercise and eating well lead to a happier body, or something.

Day the Fifth: Cultivate Your Gratitude. Looking forward to that one.

Day 3: Find a Mentor

This is our most difficult task so far, as for many of you, it will involve going outside of your comfort zone.”

I can't imagine what photo I would use for this post, so instead I am putting up a photo of pie. Because it's Pi day (3/14). Mmm, Pie.

Outside of my comfort zone? Like you wouldn’t believe, AoMblog. Like you wouldn’t believe. I don’t even know why – I’ve had an easier time asking men out on dates than I did making the phone call that completed today’s assignment.

Getting ahead of myself, though. Today’s task: Find a Mentor. This isn’t something I’ve ever thought of, so like any good girl my age, I Googled it, and then put some thought into what, exactly, I would be looking for.

What it turns out I really need is someone to help me navigate through a recent change I’ve made in my prospective career. There, I feel more like I’m flailing about in the ocean, splashing random people with salt water and then shouting “Agh! SORRY! Do you like what you do for a living?!?” Which is…inefficient.

Once I got to that, I had someone in mind immediately! Then I spent ten hours or so hemming and hawing, drafting an e-mail, re-drafting said e-mail, deleting same, having rehearsed conversations in my head (Seriously) but ended up doing what I’d like to think of as a ‘patented Gwen move’.

I invented this when I went skydiving, because I don’t remember jumping out of the plane. I believe that, in self-protection mode, my brain simply refused to believe that I was about to do something so phenomenally stupid and counter-evolutionary, and shut down. Like this:

Me: “Okay, ten thousand feet. Going to jump out now.”
Brain: “Oh puh-leeze, no you’re not. If you do, I’m never letting you reproduce.”
Me: “This fails to frighten me, blob of grey goo. Opening the door!”
Brain: “Yeah? YEAH?! I’m out.”

Memory cuts back in at about 9,980 feet.

So now, when I need to do something scary or that my blob of grey goo refuses to comprehend, I just doitreallyfast before it understands. I have used this technique to:

  • Jump in the ocean in the winter
  • Submit stories to places that are ‘out of my league’, like Asimov’s
  • Go to dance classes (see previous comment about my dance skills in yesterday’s post)
  • Ask for a promotion
  • Jump off a bridge (What? It was really high.)

Anyway, I just surprised the brainblob by calling my potential mentor while my brain was distracted by the cat, and blurted everything out over the phone. The long and short of it is – she said yes! (I’m not telling you who she is. But she’s AWESOME, and you are jealous.) I have a mentor!

Today is my favourite day of the challenge, so far. And when I go to meet my new mentor for lunch – we even booked a lunch! My mentor is organized, y’all – I will wear my shiny new shoes.

Day Four: Increase your . . . Ah, hah. Increase Your Testosterone.

Bring it on.

Day 2: The Shiniest of Shoes

Day the Second.

That’s just a good sunshiney-day song, that is. I think my favourite bit is where he acts out the line, “Short on money but long on time,” because that’s pretty much how I dance: Acting out lyrics.

Today is a much easier assignment, but involves 100% more going-out-and-buying-things than yesterday. Since I’ve never actually owned shoe polish I had to go out and find some. Apparently there’s a shoe store in my neighbourhood. Who knew? Anyway, I got there just as they opened and was educated by a very knowledgeable woman about different kinds of shoe polish, polish v. weatherproofing, and the difference between shining leather and buffing suede. (Short version: Don’t mix them up.) She was also a fountain of information about local shops, restaurants, and where-to-find-the-best-coffee. (I already knew that last one, but had no idea about the first two.) So, unexpected bonus of the manject.

*Note: I am now calling the 30 Days to a Better Man Project ‘The Manject’.

Since I don’t have army boots, I’ll be working on these two badasses:

All the gear.

On the left of the photo are my very, very favourite pair of heels. Those shoes? Kick all the ass. All of the ass is kicked by them. I can walk, dance, run for a bus, or go for a job interview in those shoes. Pants love them. Skirts vie for places of privilege above them. And yet . . . and yet, they kind of look like shit. And they’re full of cat hair! Why?! Why does cat hair get everywhere?

Maybe you can’t see it in the photo? Okay. They’re scuffed fairly seriously on the heel from a night of dancing on gravel at an outdoor concert in Miami. (It’s a good way to get a scuff, if you’re a shoe. They even dance on gravel! Is this not amazing?) They’re dusty from living in the back of a closet, because really, I generally hit the town in my running shoes. I’m that kind of classy.

The other boots? Oh, these boots. They are warm, gore-tex lined, waterproof leather, vibram soles. I bought them in Victoria at Viberg. Viberg, for the most part, makes workboots and steel-toed boots for linemen, loggers and hunters. I wear these boots every day, almost all year. They weigh like, ten pounds, but when I went to Viable Paradise I brought them with me and was oh-so-glad of it. (Writer Camp is not for wusses.)

Annnnnnnnyway. They also look like shit, but at least they’re not full of cat hair as my heels are. According to the lady in the store this morning, the leather on these boots will crack if I expose them too often to salt water, which I do – again – on an almost daily basis. This little 30-day Manject will probably extend the life of these boots fairly hugely.

(I am required to note here that it HAS been suggested to me in the past, by many people – one of whom I live with – that I treat, condition, and waterproof these boots. But that’s just people! I can ignore people. This is the internet.)

I think I’ve run out of things to say. I will now go and shine the boots/heels.

<<Time passes.>>




And once they were all done: (This is a LOT of photos of shoes.)

See that pile of sand? That was all in the little eyelets of my boots. My boots EAT SAND.

Anyway, due to the removed shoe laces, this is how I’ll be spending the rest of the evening:


Next is Day Three: Find a Mentor. (Yeeps!)