Friday, October 31, 2008

Another one bites the dust

Time for a piece of fluff post.

I've discovered over the years that I have the power to discontinue restaurants and retails goods. I know what you're thinking - I haven't lost my mind. This power is REAL.

It seems that if I really like something, it discontinues. Just this week, I found out that 2 skincare products I use are discontinued. It was actually a bit comical. I was looking for the first item at my local drug store and asked a sales associate for help. She advised it had been discontinued. A couple of days later, I asked the same associate for the second product and she advised it had also been discontinued. I swear she must have thought I was a mystery shopper testing her knowledge.

I'm thinking of all the things I liked that have been discontinued and will share a few highlights:

  • Olive Garden Restaurant (no longer in Canada)

  • Toby's Good Eats (I think there might be one left somewhere but these used to be all over the place)

  • Denby "Reflex" pattern (when I got married, instead of having a fancy China pattern, I chose this set of dishes so we could use them everyday. They were discontinued shortly thereafter so I'm missing pieces.)

  • Lancome Clarifiance face wash

  • Andrea pre-soaked eye makeup pads (these were a great deal at $4.99 a pack. A similar product by another manufacturer cost me $8.49 this week and they definitely aren't as good)

At least a dozen items from the grocery store (this happens a couple times a year). I feel like I curse things when I declare that I like them!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Maybe it's the weather

I've noticed something about a couple of Alzheimer blogs I read. The bloggers are a bit down. Is it the weather? The shortening of the daylight hours? I think the fall season is a bit depressing. I've never liked it. It's not a very hope-inspiring season. One blogger even wrote that s/he feels like crying somedays.

I'm writing this entry because I know what they feel. Day-to-day, I'm okay... but somedays, you just feel like you want to cry because you've bottled up so much that you need to let it out. I know a lot of people might feel foolish or nutty for crying as an adult and never do it (or admit to it!). But I think a good cry helps release things.

I did exactly that one night last week. I came home from work (where I appeared with-it all day) and sat in my living room by myself and bawled my eyes out. I actually openly cried. Not a few tears and gulps. I had a GOOD BIG CRY complete with little wails. God, it felt good. Why did this happen? No reason in particular. I just needed it. DH was not home and has no clue that I had this big meltdown. And by the time he got home, I didn't feel like talking about it. Sometimes, there's nothing to really talk about. No amount of talking will help you get out the raw emotion that crying does.

I know my fellow bloggers who are currently caring for their moms with Alzheimers have horrible days where they just want to run away and cry. I hope that my blog and comments on their blogs help them cope a bit. Even after your mom passes on, you're not okay right away or even for a while after. You've been living this disease as long as they have and it will take time for you to recover. Sometimes I think Alzheimers hurts the carers/families more than the victims.

Someone once said to me that my mom didn't just die this summer; she's been dying for 16 years and I've been grieving for those 16 years (while having to be strong and caring on the outside). Now that she has finally (I don't mean to say "finally" in a bad way) passed on physically, I can't expect myself to snap out of it right away and be great all the time. I have good days but I also have not-so-good days.

Closing note to my fellow bloggers - try to keep your chins up but know that sometimes a good cry will help you keep going.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Loooser!

Ever have a disagreement with your SO and then feel like a complete and utter loser later? That's how I'm feeling today.

The disagreement was started by me (and now I kick myself for starting it) and there really was no point in starting it. And the end result just highlighted what a loser I am sometimes. A BIG LOSER.

Someday, I will learn to bite my tongue and just let things go. A boyfriend in high school always chanted that mantra to me "let it go" and I thought it was funny at the time (because he was seriously into karate stuff and his zen-like ways cracked me up). But maybe I should take that advice now. Some battles just aren't worth it. Gotta pick and choose what I'm going to fight about or there will be too many days that I end up feeling like this :(

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A General Update

It's been a few months since my last "General Update" so I thought I'd write one.

It's been just over 4 months since my mom passed away. I seemed to be okay for the first couple of months and then I seemed to slump into a bit of a depression for these last couple of months. I think maybe it hadn't really sunk in for a bit and when it did, it hit hard. It's hard enough to lose a parent but to be slowly losing them for 16 years and then finally have it happen is very hard. It doesn't help when your family is the ultimate portrait of dysfunction. Your family should band together to help each other through times like this but unfortunately, that's not always the way things go.

I did something sad last week and survived it. I went and visited my parents' gravesite. The plate has been affixed with my mom's name and the grass has been replanted. I sat there for a bit, cried and told them how much I missed them and how there are some things in my life that are just really messed up (like my siblings being basically estranged from each other and now slowly from me, like my DH's ex is still tangled up in his family/friends) and how I wish they were here to guide me. I know my words might go no-where but I felt better "talking to them". Overall, I think I've been doing a bit better these last couple of weeks. I've been trying pretty hard to not let the sadness creep up on me. My friends have been amazing ~ thank G*D I have them.

I also have an update about my little storyteller. I finally confronted the person a couple of weeks ago. I guess s/he noticed that I was avoiding him/her and we got into quite a conversation. I wasn't going to confront this person but it just happened. And s/he got really defensive and had all sorts of "reasons" for this lie, that lie... mostly all the reasons were "so s/he wouldn't hurt the person" being lied to. Okay, we all have told a little white lie here & there to save someone's feelings but these were not little white lies; these were ridiculous lies. The conversation ended and we haven't talked much since. I'm not sure what the next step is. Sometimes it's just not worth opening up a can like this.

I think that's all I have to update on... thanks for reading and comment if you wish - I'd love to hear from you, who-ever my world of readers are!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Stelllllaaaaa!!!

Ok, so I promised I'd work up some fluff since my last post was a bit serious. Here it is ~ I'm going to tell you about my neighbour.

He's no ordinary guy. I've never seen anyone quite like him. He's a crackhead...we'll call him CH. I know, I know, we shouldn't make light of drug addicts but, hey, they do exist and living next to this guy is priceless. And for some people who live in nicer places or the suburbs, this is a glimpse of city living next to a crackhead.

I should have clued in the first day I met him. It was moving day for us and we were hauling boxes and stuff into our house. Our neighbourhood isn't the best in the city but our immediate neighbourhood is good, our house was affordable (which is unheard of in our city) and we think it's an "up & coming neighbourhood".

So back to our moving day. Our neighbour, "CH" is standing on his porch watching us. We'd never met our neighbours before this day so we didn't know anything about them. CH isn't looking too good but hey, it's early in the day and maybe he's a shift worker or something. I had no idea he was a crackhead ~ I was so naive! Later in the morning, a person in a beautiful Corvette comes to visit CH and when he goes to leave, CH is screaming "Jimmmmyyy!!! Jimmmmmmmmmmyyyyy!" CH's voice carries through the neighbourhood. All I kept thinking was "Stellllllaaaa!!" as he kept yelling.

Over the first few weeks of living in our new house, we quickly realized what CH is. He was always out & about walking around the neighbourhood. The police were at his house every week. He was constantly begging for money from his mom or sister (who also live there). He'd actually make quite a debater or bargaining agent as the conversations go like this:

CH: Hey Sis, can you lend me $5?
Sister: No
CH: Oh c'mon, $5?
Sister: No
CH: C'mon sisssssssss...$5?
Sister: No
This goes on & on...and if CH gets tired, he'll re-try later in the day. We hear them over the fence.

Lately, CH has taken to begging outside our local variety store. One day I got off the bus and there he was in all his glory, sitting on a milk crate, begging. Then, a few feet away was my other neighbour and her daughter walking along. My other neighbour is a vice president at a very large worldwide company and has done really well for herself. Her & her daughter are always impeccably groomed and dressed. What a freakish scene this was ~ it was like night & day crashed into each other! I joined her & we walked home together. She remarked "CH is something else. He lives in a 4 bedroom house yet he's sitting down the street begging outside a variety store". Yep...that's our neighbour.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Warning: some readers might find this posting offensive or controversial!

In a conversation lately, someone told me that they feel like they only see their relatives when it's a holiday or a kid's birthday. Other than that, they don't see or hear from them. I've been thinking about this and it is kinda true.

I have some relatives in my life like that too. We see them at holidays and kids birthdays and that's about it. Other than those events, we don't really socialize with them because of a few reasons...they're too busy, they socialize with other people and overall, we really don't have a lot in common with them. They suggest elaborate gifts for their kids' birthdays by sending annoying emails from Toys R Us online ("Mary is sending you a suggestion from Toys'r'us: Johnny would like this for his birthday!"). Gee, thanks Mary. Great to hear from you.

My sibling started a trend in our family where only children get presents at Christmas and on birthdays (this person doesn't believe in celebrating adult birthdays). Well, that works out great if you have kids. You don't spend a cent and everyone brings your kids presents. S/he thinks that "Christmas and birthdays are for kids". So what happens if you don't have kids? You don't celebrate? I don't mean to come across as a greedy person but I think even a token gift would be nice or a "pick a name out of the hat" or Kris Kringle for Christmas for the adults. Or geez, a celebratory dinner for a birthday even. Nope. No buyers.

Now, why I thought this post might hurt some feelings is because I don't have kids and maybe I just don't get it. I've heard once you have kids, your whole life changes and they become the centre of your life and etc. Ok, but is it any reason to treat people differently? Is it any reason to only socialize for holidays/birthdays where you bring a present for their kid(s)? It makes people feel pretty used and sad.

On the other hand, I'm thinking that maybe if I had my own family (read: kids) then I wouldn't feel so left out or used. Maybe I'd be so wrapped up with them that I'd forget about this stuff. Maybe I'm still clinging to my old family (i.e. my parents & siblings) too much and others have moved on and started their own families and no longer consider themselves part of their original family.

A little deep eh? Well, I promised I'll work up some fluff for later this week ;)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Be our guest...be our guest...put our serice to the test

Near my work is a very large & grand hotel that is 80 years old. It appears pretty ritzy to the outsider. Rooms start at $300 per night. It has lavish ballrooms. Big-time politicians visit and conferences are held there. It's a bit of a historical landmark in my city. But after staying there a couple of times, attending a few events there and short-cutting through the hotel for the past 10 years to the subway, I have some of my own observations.

Overall, the hotel is okay. I've stayed there a couple times and the guest rooms are really small (for such a grand hotel!) and a bit dingy. Definitely not worth $300 per night. I actually feel bad booking visitors there when our preferred hotel is sold out.

The food at the hotel is pretty good...however I have no idea how the restaurants stay in business. I rarely see them busy and their service levels definitely need some improvement. There's one place for soup, salad & sandwiches at lunch and it never fails that the service is the pits. The decor in that place could use some help too.

Events at the hotel have always been good but I think that's more because the people who run them (i.e. our events group at work) are top notch. I think they could hold an event anywhere and people would have a good time. One yearly event is a sit-down lunch and the food is always good but once again...service is lacking.

And now onto the shops inside the hotel. I have no idea how they stay afloat. No. Idea. Some of the stores have been there for the 10 years that I've been strolling through while others come & go overnight. There's a mini variety store which is quite busy and useful so I must exclude that from my general observations. The other stores include overpriced clothing stores and one store completely devoted to rain-wear & umbrellas (hello, is our climate that rainy?). The stores are always empty except for the staff that work there. Honestly, I've never seen real customers purchasing things.

There is also a "spa" among the hotel shops. It should have a revolving door as its entrance for the staff turnover. I occasionally have a service done there (i.e. nails, wax or whatever) and there's always new staff. Apparently, the owners are completely nutty and drive staff away in droves. If you look at its website, you'd think you're going to a luxury day spa when in fact it's an overpriced beauty salon in a dingy hotel basement run by lunatics. Down the hall from the "spa" is a barber shop which gives me the creeps. Its employees are usually standing around the hallway giving everyone a slow, creepy once-over as they walk past. Eew.

So, overall, I have to say you can't judge a book by its cover...or should I say, you can't judge a hotel by its first impression. After 10 years of looking at it from different angles (i.e. day-guest, overnight guest, event guest, shopper, etc.), I have to conclude that it's not all it's cracked up to be.

p.s. "Be our Guest" was my favourite song from Beauty & the Beast. I love Lumiere!