All the worst photos I see on Tinder

Aside from the obvious blurry/bad facial expressions/not the person in the profile, I have seen these:

1. Selfie taken from what appears to be under the dash of your car. Your seatbelt is still done up.

2. Your car/motorcycle/quad, but not you.

3. Your child/pet, but not you.

4. Only your abs.

5. You doing yoga in the wilderness.

6. You giving the finger to the camera (?!)

7. You with a northern pike/white tail deer.

8.You wearing shiny sunglasses.

9. You with a bride (hopefully not yours?)

10. You holding a musical instrument (surprisingly unsexy!).

 

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Mile Zero Dance: Without Borders

I was invited to produce a piece of writing for this event! I talked about it here. I think I sound pretty smart; thanks to Fawnda for making it so!

This is what I came up with. Let me know if the link works. What you see is the front and back of a folded document. It was pretty cute.

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YOU MUST MAKE THIS SMOOTHIE

1 C frozen dark cherries/strawberries
1 C soy milk or whatever
Bloop of yogurt
A handful of spinach (for your health)

AND … A SPOONFUL OF NUTELLA.
Drinkable chocolate-covered cherries/strawberries.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

Oh yeah. Put it in a blender and blend it, doi.

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Texting the wrong number: a morality tale

ACTUAL EVENTS DEPICTED:

Me: Hi! It’s Mari! The address is XXXXX XX Street!

Shorty after, I get a phone call and I explain to the dude that sorry, I texted the wrong number. A few minutes later, he starts texting me back.

Dude: Are you available

Me: How so?

Dude: To go out

Me: Uh, with a complete stranger? Why would you want that? I might be really horrible.

Dude: Do you work

Me: Of course I do.

Dude: Are you working now

Me: I’m not interested, if that’s what you’re getting at. I don’t even know you!

Dude: Me neither but someone else had my phone and wondering how you got this number

Me: By typing in the wrong number! I wasn’t looking for you!

DUDES ARE CONFUSING.

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Conflict resolution breakthrough

TRIGGER WARNING: corny moment of self-reflection

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about conflict and how to deal with aggression. Part of it is just reflecting on my behaviour in past relationships and what I’ve learned through that. But I also recently wrote an It Happened to Me for xoJane that hit a nerve with some commenters. I thought it was important to respond to them (and also I am contractually required to).

These comments were only borderline snarky and not really looking for a fight, but it still stung to be criticized, whether I deserved it or not. But I went through each comment and clarified what they didn’t understand, or gently suggest that they read the entire article (because COME ON).

It was really validating to read the (many more! Thank you!) positive responses to my writing — nice for the ego! —  but what really moved me were the comments that mentioned how impressed they were of how I was conducting myself in the conversation. I guess I’m pretty good at keeping the peace. Middle child thing, maybe?

I’ve figured out that the best way to handle anger/hostility/aggression is in a way that allows both parties to walk away unscathed, with dignities intact. It’s sort of like emotional aikido. I’m not counting physical aggression — I haven’t had to deal with that ever, and I hope I never have to. But when someone comes after me verbally with rage or aggression, I want to stop it. It’s not good if I just do whatever it takes to appease someone (LIFE LESSON), but I’ve learned to redirect those feelings towards the problem, not a person (and especially not me. Unless it’s my fault. Then sorry.). It’s usually anger masking fear or hurt. Dig for the real reasons and deal with those needs.

I’m also pretty lucky that I’ve been able to create a life for myself that gives me room for a lot of self-care so I can have the energy to cope with stress. When I’m stressed (like when I was teaching), I’m a disaster. It’s way easier to deal with conflict calmly and patiently if you’re actually calm and patient. Life is hard, and everyone struggles. We need to ask the question: how do we find the strength and generosity to let each other co-exist?

And you know what? I need to do this for my self-loathing — I can be so cruel to myself. For a few years now I’ve been living in reaction to my feelings instead of listening to what they really have to say and figuring out what I actually need. So instead of risking angering someone, I diminished myself and became a boiling volcano of resentment. I’ve been so scared of opening up discussions because I knew that the outcome might/will hurt a little in the short term, but would be wise in the long term.

AND IT FUCKING SUCKS.

Doing the right thing feels like shit. Tell me I’m going to be OK.

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I AM THE QUEEN OF WAFFLES

Tonight I was supposed to go to Lily Tsui’s house for breakfast-for-dinner, but she got last-minute Oilers tickets and who am I to prevent a woman from going to see her true love? I have somehow accumulated way too many eggs, though, so I went ahead with breakfast-for-dinner for one.

I felt a bit like a fancy lady, so I put in a bit of effort and made waffles FOR THE FIRST TIME. I’ve had a waffle iron since forever, but never used it — it was kind of a hand-me-down, and it was my ex’s, and he didn’t want it, so there it is.

Waffles. Exalted waffles. Icon of shouty women. I made them my friend.

Here is the recipe. They’re easy (and I realize that Mari-easy is different from normal-easy, but here’s something I’m good at and don’t take it away from me).

The dry ingredients are mixed together (flour, sugar, baking soda). Then a couple egg yolks, a cup (!!) of melted butter, milk, vanilla, and egg whites beaten to meringue. Maybe I added too much sweetness; I used vanilla soy milk instead of bovine milk. Will adjust next time, as I will the melted butter because OH MY GOD BUTTERY.

Then I scooped up a bit of the batter and cooked it in my waffle iron. MAGICAL. It smells so good when it’s cooking, people. And since I was dining solo, I just ate them with my hands as they came out of the iron.

There it is. Great waffles, the first time. BEHOLD.

photo-5

 

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Chocolate cream pie

The other night I was determined to make a beautiful dinner and a mind-blowing dessert to, uh, blow minds. I’d been waiting for an occasion to make a French Silk Pie, so I found a recipe from Martha Stewart that didn’t look too hard.

Failure. TWICE a failure. Thanks for nothing, Martha. (the rest of the meal was good — phew!) Although it may also have been the fault of the chocolate. For some reason, I had a giant Costco bag of chocolate chips in the pantry and I figured I would use those. Anyhow, bad chocolate melts into a gross clump and I gave up.

This was a couple of days before Xmas at Sasano HQ, and this year I was assigned dessert for my contribution. NO PROBLEM. But I figure failing three times would break my heart, so I found another recipe, this one from Epicurious.

Being me, I forget to get ingredients until Xmas DAY. It’s hard to get groceries that day, but I didn’t need much. I found some nice bars of Lindt Madagascar dark chocolate, vanilla extract, and a half litre of whipping cream at the Shopper’s Drug Mart. Oh yeah, and a box of graham crumbs for the crust. Oldest nephew has a nut allergy, so I had to improvise.

It is SO EASY, people. Crumbs, melted butter =  crust. Didn’t even bother baking it. Done. Then make a sort of custard with eggs and sugar and milk. I melted the chocolate in a double boiler (really, it was a little pot of boiling water in which I immersed a little bowl. I am not that fancy).

You get what you pay for with chocolate. You want chocolate that actually melts, and that only happens with the good stuff. Something about cocoa butter, I figure. Anyhow, if it’s not good enough to eat, it’s not good enough to bake with. Now we know. The melted chocolate goes into the custard, the custard goes into the crust, refrigerate. I whipped the full 500mL of cream for the cream part right before serving, grated some chocolate sprinkles and WOW.

photo-4

See what I mean? It was a hit. My 8-year old nephew gave it a 5/5! I need to make this again. So should you.

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I’M BACK: and more OK than ever!

So it’s been a while and this year has been crazy like whoa. Long story short: broke up with BF over the summer (gentlemen: the line forms to the left — get at me before my looks go!) and worked at a totally bonkers TV job, then quit it.

I’m now working with a clean slate and after feeling terrible for several months, I am now feeling surprisingly not-lost.

As some of you may know, I’ve really been struggling with my identity as a writer for the past several years. I had a really good beginning to my career (which I kinda just stumbled into, really). It was really fun and challenging to write for ed magazine (rest in peace, you sweet young thing). It fed my soul, to use a totally gross cliche.

I think a lot of mid-career people in creative fields who are not unstoppable robots hit a plateau or slump. I hit it, hard. Tried a few things, succeeded and failed, but never really felt like I had the same kind of home that I used to. There was nothing to post here because nothing was really happening.

But since returning to full-time freelancing, I’ve had some tremendous support from my writing colleagues and have slowly been making some effort into pitching the kind of writing I actually want to do. Money be damned! (and damn, it’s terrible)

I’ve had two pieces published on XOJane and one in the pipes. Honestly, I don’t know why I was so scared to approach them before. Maybe because JANE PRATT OMG, right? And I’ve started pitching at other places too. But this feels like home. The Toast and The Butter and The Frisky and all the other places beginning with “the” are other places I’m looking at. If I can do a few a month, I will be happy.

I’ll be posting links to the articles I’ve written here (I made a little “writing” tab up there), and even if I get no traffic, I’ll be content because my blog is on my business cards and someone might actually look at it once in a while.

Thank you, anonymous universe! I will be worthy of your treasures!

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Oops!

Sorry I haven’t blogged! I promise I will soon!

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No zeroes?

So, a teacher at my old high school got suspended for handing out zeroes in his class.

Maybe he was obnoxious about it (the school board cites his “defiance”), but I definitely agree with how he has dealt with his classroom. It makes sense, and it’s fair: students who fail to submit their assignments get a zero; students are allowed to hand in their assignments by the end of term with no penalties.

I can see how confidence needs to be built in elementary grades by emphasizing work rather than grades. I don’t mind the idea of not grading elementary level students at all, actually. But at the high school level, these are young adults. Self esteem needs to be built on taking on responsibility and mastery of subjects, which is what young adults naturally seek at that age. This teacher seems to be striking a good balance: he shows the students the consequences BEFORE he assigns them a zero, then he gives them a chance to make it up.

In a my classroom, I tell them what the deadlines are, and to stick to them. But I also tell them that we are all adults: if there are extenuating circumstances, they need to tell me. I would rather have a slightly late assignment than an assignment that didn’t fulfil its pedagogical goal. And I certainly would prefer reading an assignment that is written well than one that is rushed and terrible! As workers, we are all sometimes required to hand in work late. That’s life. But as adults, we need to let people know when that will happen in advance, and why. Negotiating timelines is part of the work world.

That’s precisely what this teacher has done. He has given his students an opportunity to learn how to deal with a client, boss, or teacher– not as an arbitrary disciplinarian, but as a colleague. It’s admirable, actually. I can’t believe how many students are unable to talk to their teacher. And I’ve had students come to me to ask for their grades to be bumped up. They come to me in tears, but without any reason why I would help them. I tell them that a negotiation means they come in with reasons and evidence. If they can’t give me any, then they get what they get. It seems to surprise them, but it’s true: I’m fallible, so if I have missed something on their assignments, then I would be open to raising their mark if they can point out where I’m wrong.

But failing to hand in an assignment at all, after all of that? A zero seems more than fair.

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