Lox and keys

It turns out that at a point, you hit a wall with smoked salmon.

Let me elaborate. The morning after Saturday’s wedding (traditionally known as both Sunday Morning, and “easy like”), there was an arranged brunch at a nearby hotel. It was fantastic, and interesting. People who we’d previously seen at the wedding were visible in the light of day. That same assortment of characters, who had no other reason to ever be in the same room, filled a hotel banquet room. Naturally, for a hotel banquet. There were poached eggs with hollandaise, salads, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, bagels, fruit, pastries and, as mentioned, smoked salmon. Given the quantities of alcohol consumed the night prior, everyone was in mildly rough shape, and eager for a big feed. Having had virtually no appetite for the past few days due to sickness, I was in an ideal situation. I piled my plate high with meats and bread, packing my stomach like an apocalypse prepper before Y2K. While many cradled their heads in their hands, I bobbed up and down in my seat, happily chewing on animal, vegetable and dough based foods alike.

We had a five plus hour drive ahead of us post brunch. Our car was all packed up, we were going straight from the open buffet to the open road. I saw my friend/our driver lathering up a bagel with cream cheese. I thought, as is her style, that she was prepping a road meal. It made so much sense. We were at a buffet with gratuitous quantities of food. There was no way that they were in any danger of running out. Why not take some of the ample vittles on offer and make a lunch for the trip? When you thought hard about it, it was frankly wasteful and villainous to do anything but. I would do my solemn, heroic duty and prepare something to eat later. At the same time, I was gonna be subtle, low key and potentially surreptitious about it. For kicks, y’know?

I grabbed two bagel halves, a sachet of cream cheese and a stack of smoked salmon, capers & red onion. If I was to hazard a guess at how tall that salmon stood? Probably around five centimetres high stacked loosely. It might not have been a literal tonne, but it looked like one. I spread the sachet of cream cheese thickly, making sure every inch of each bagel face was covered. I layered the salmon, one sheet at a time. I wanted a tight operation, with a maximised salmon per bite ratio in place. I think I broke the scale. I also tossed two chocolate chip cookies into my lunch bag for a little treat. I wrapped the bagel in two napkins, and stowed it away in a plastic bag that I kept at the side of the table. 20 minutes later, the hotel brought out styrofoam containers for people to take home food. The food had all been paid for, and it was a common occurrence to offer leftovers in cases such as these. Clearly, my heroic and not at all self-interest based plan was nothing out of the ordinary.

We brunched around 11am. I think I finally got hungry just before 6pm. That’s how much I ate at brunch. I unwrapped the bagel and was hit with a salty scent. The bagel had heft, and the normally thin blanket of smoked salmon was instead a virtual steak. It was thick and substantial, having morphed into a solid brick. I took a bite and stopped for a second. I reeled. Amassed in such a quantity, it tasted like biting into pure brine. My body bristled. It’s not like the salmon wasn’t tasty, but holy hell it was intense. I think there’s a reason why it’s treated like a delicacy, because it’s meant to be delicately balanced. When it resembles a burger, there’s nothing delicate or balanced about smoked salmon. It’s an overpowering wall of taste. No room for nuance, it was like being slapped over the tongue with a whole fish. I powered through the entire sandwich, and I believe that my heart is now encased in a salty prison, preserved against the ravages of the elements. It’s what they call a “Love Lox-down”. My life has been divided into two periods, pre and post bagel. If I hear a word against my actions, I’ll decry it as a schmear campaign and deny everything. In my new life I’m emboldened an unrepentant. Born again under a pillar of salt. I am irrevocably changed, and the salmon is to blame.

I mean, mostly I’m to blame, but that doesn’t fit in with my new unrepentant personality, so the finger points to the salmon.

Give ’em the good new fashioned

My girlfriend had been telling me for months that there was something secret and special planned for the wedding.

“Is it a flashmob?” I asked. “It’s probably a flashmob.”
“A secret is what it is.” She replied.
It was a flashmob.

As the years have passed, I’ve naturally attended more weddings. Each a little different, each their own. What I’ve come to appreciate the most is how each couple tailors their marital unity to their distinct personalities. It’s neat to see all the little touches they add, whether in presentation, vows, even food. This wedding was entirely the summation of these two individuals tying the knot together.

The vows were incredibly sincere, and made absolute sense for a couple who’ve been together for the past 15 years. While distinct people, they’ve grown together in many ways. A myriad of nicknames and bits found their way into the vows, while I didn’t know the couple well enough to be in on them, I still got the gist. I don’t know that I managed to straight up cry, but there were definitely a bunch of moments that yanked on the ol’ heart strings. The vows made sense in a modern context, talking in a wider sense of trust and understanding, a desire to grow together, work as a team and see the best intentions in one another. I mean, they were worded much more sweetly than that, but the gist is there.

Everyone involved in the running of the wedding was absurdly pleasant. Nothing close to any drama. There was the wedding party (denoted by their silly tiny hats), helping out with little tasks around the place. Making sure the bridegroom ate, drank and had anything they needed.  The servers taking around finger foods were lovely, incredibly friendly and super helpful. The bar staff were great, and the DJ kept things rolling on. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a wedding where both the Tetris theme and Die Antwoord have played, but it was that kind of wedding. Get on board already, geez.

The food was excellent. Instead of a personal meal, they had servers coming around with all sorts of hors d’oeuvres. The bride assured us all that nobody would go hungry. She was right. The hors d’oeuvres did not stop coming. There were calamari sticks, meat and veggie skewers, potato cake things, mushroom risotto, pad thai in takeout containers, these amazing fig and blue cheese concoctions, warm pumpkin soup in little shot glasses, and my favourite, the seared tuna. Even with my reduced appetite, I still managed to try everything. Except maybe the desserts. There was a literal wall of desserts, and I had no hope in trying more than three or four things.

We had such a great time. The music kept going until the early hours of the morning, and the dance floor stayed full the entire time. All of the couple’s friends were great, very easy to get along with. There was nothing contentious whatsoever, just a wonderful night of excellent people getting hitched. And a flash mob.

If you have to ask, it’s probably a flash mob. And it was a fun one.

Good ol’ fashioned jean therapy

Oh Jeans Jeans Jeans.

Never change. I mean, do change, that’s half the point. The changing rooms specifically are the focal area of Jeans Jeans Jeans. I’ve written about Jeans Jeans Jeans before, but rarely do I run out of things to say about Jeans Jeans Jeans. Okay, I’m likely to type that many times today. Let’s stick with the acronym JJJ for now.

If you haven’t read one of my many other experiences at JJJ, let’s boil this down. JJJ is a big underground warehouse. Jeans cover the walls. Not just errant pairs, but cascading styles and sizes of brands. The different coloured hangers on each pair denote the size, to easily pick them out. There are tons of new seasons jeans, and just as many old seasons pairs for 50% off. Very nice jeans at affordable prices. If there’s something you want, they probably have it. If they don’t, maybe come back in a few weeks. If it doesn’t look like they have what you’re looking for, you probably haven’t asked.

Customers and staff alike stand around the changing rooms. Customers go in, try things, then come out wearing them. There are mirrors everywhere for customers to check their fit. Staff are on the lookout to ascertain how good they look, and to pin up for alterations. Alterations are free, and take 5-10 minutes in store. If they pairs don’t look so great, staff will call around the store for certain styles, sizes, brands, etc. More accurately, Leroy does.

Egads, Leroy gets his own paragraph. Leroy is the engine that keeps JJJ running. He’s a whirling dervish, weaving between customers, making things tick over. He’ll peek at customers looking in mirrors and give suggestions. He’ll get back to customers he dealt with earlier, offering them alternatives. He’ll bark around the store “Harry, get me a 410 in Sierra on a grey hanger”. Half a minute later, a pair of jeans will fly through the air, Leroy catches them and hands them to the customer. He’ll stop and pin up hemlines in 5 seconds flat. A guy waiting around was like “is he going to pin me up?” His friends looked down “he already did” they said. Every now and again, while dealing with one customer, he’ll toss a pair of jeans into another changing room. “Oh, thanks” you’ll hear, surprised as they are by the impromptu delivery. Other staff consult with Leroy and he’ll give them snappy and seemingly accurate suggestions. Then he’ll hurl a pair of jeans halfway across the store to another staff member walking through. It’s Leroy’s circus.

I walked in today looking to pick up a few pairs. I love all the jeans I grabbed two years ago. Some of them are starting to show wear and tear. One pair in particular, I adore. Every time I “get” to wear them, I’m bowled over by how comfortable they are, how smooth the fit is and the flexibility in them. I can walk up big stairs without worry. Without looking at any jeans, I walked right up to the changing rooms. I found Leroy and showed him the jeans I was wearing. “I got these here last time. They’re my absolute favourite pair. If I could wear them every single day, I would. What do you have that fit like these, but in some interesting, outrageous colours?” He directed me towards a changing room. A minute later, he trust eight pairs of colourful jeans on hangers into the room. He picked my size exactly. A lot of the legs were a little long, but they got pinned back easily. The fit was astounding. Each pair I tried, I loved. I picked three pairs with colours that would complement my wardrobe: A soft grey, the colour of shark skin. A shade of green slightly lighter than olive. Finally, a gentle sky blue. I spent all of 20 minutes between the front door and having three pairs. I spent almost $300 once I added a belt. I’m banking these pairs because I know some of mine are wearing down and I want to future proof myself. Maybe soon it’ll feel like I’m wearing my favourite pair every day.

JJJ doesn’t just sell jeans, but by God does it ever sell jeans well.

Something something tying the snot

Forgive me if this is somehow less coherent than usual.

Whatever sickness I’m down with is kicking my ass. At the very least it’s deeply inhibiting my ability to sleep. Over the past few days, every few hours while in bed I’ll wake for some indeterminate amount of time. Always it feels like hours slip away. I’ll roll over, turn to my back, rotate my head, then turn the whole way ad infinitum. Despite not having had strenuous activity afoot, my brain feels messy. You know those old scrambled egg brain on drug PSAs? It’s like that, but someone has wedged a big block of cheese into the middle and it’s slowly dissipating through my mind. I think they call that melting, and I certainly feel like I am. With another hour left before my alarm went off, I figured I’d be better to get up and take writing out of the way for today. It sucks, I haven’t had coffee for the past three days, and I’d hoped it’d aid my sleep. Not so, apparently. I can’t tell if I’d feel more or less strung out if I’d been drinking it.

I’m gonna be in a car for five to six hours today. Will I perhaps manage to car sleep? Cram my body full of meds and conk out? Here’s hoping. We’re driving to Montreal, which seems like a shitty city to be sick in. Firstly, it’s bound to be snowy. Secondly, Montreal has all the best things to see, experience and eat. Thirdly, I’m going there for a wedding, and who wants to be sick at a wedding? Not this guy, that’s for sure. I’m there to eat, drink, and probably cry once or twice. While it’s true that being sick does not explicitly prevent any of these activities, I’d prefer not to leak mucus while shedding tears. There’s graceful wedding crying, and there’s whatever shit show I’m likely to be.

I also feel incredibly unprepared. I shouldn’t. We’re going to Montreal, it’s not a different country or anything. I shop in the same currency, there’s nothing fancy I need to enable for my phone, I don’t need a visa or even a passport. We have the Air BnB all booked, and it’s close to the venue. My bag is packed, but yet again I feel like there’s something that isn’t. I’ve got my clothes, still need to fold my dress shirt. I packed toiletries, my meds are ready to roll, I have comfy clothes for the drive. I could do well to put together some snacks for the trip. We have an abundant pile on the kitchen table. We also have things in the fridge I want to eat before they go off. I guess that means cutting that big chunk of ham into more tactile fry shaped strips. Do I need to shave? If so, it’d be so much quicker at home rather than at the Air BnB. Is that something I need to factor into my morning? Do I need to download some podcasts to zone out to in the back seat?

I think what I need is breakfast, to at least put myself into a place where I can make decisions. Oatmeal here I come!

Mr Peanut is dead and we’re all doomed

We looked at a new rental today.

I already hate the search. Not because of anything that was particularly unpleasant at this place. More that I can see the path stretching onwards, and it’s full of disappointment and near misses. Also potentially finding great homes and being beaten out by others. It’s not easy using our current abode as a measuring stick. While it ain’t the fanciest house in the world, it’s on street level, it has two spacious bedrooms with doors that close, a kitchen with lots of storage space, and on onsite washer/dryer. Utilities are included and it’s in a great area for transit and other amenities. It’s close to a bunch of our friends, which is neat.

Today’s place was a basement. That’s not a dealbreaker, and as far as basements go this one had a lot of natural light. The ceilings, while not terribly high, weren’t as cramped as I imagine some basements are. For either of us, they’d be fine. Taller friends would maybe have to duck under some parts. The kitchen wasn’t huge, at least as far as counter space goes. We’d probably need to put some more storage around, whether shelves or something of the like. Fortunately, there probably would be space for it. There were some fun nooks and crannies I’m sure we could turn into useful features. Potentially some places for our cat to explore rather than getting bored as she does in our current home. There was even an alcove that’d fit my computer without having to take up another room. There were two bedrooms, one slightly larger than the other. Tons of closet space. They weren’t tall closets, but very wide. There likely wouldn’t be enough room in the master for our bed plus a dresser each as we currently have. That’s not a hard boundary, it’d mean we’d just need to get creative about using the closets. Maybe even split stuff between the two bedrooms. The neighbourhood was nice. Beautiful houses and close enough to amenities. It’d probably chop about ten minutes off my ride to work, which is very much not nothing. Still close to our favourite bus route and VERY close to two main East/West streets.

One big issue, the floors were terribly uneven. Whether they’d been warped in the past, or just poorly put together was up for question. There was a noticeable drop from one side of the kitchen to the other. As far as the bedrooms went, it’d be slightly awkward to have the bed on an uneven surface. We’d probably adjust with little cardboard bits or something, but certainly not ideal. The landlord showed us around, and she was very nice. She’d had the place for a while and told us about the other tenants. All of a similar age, professionals in their 30s. They travelled a lot, so they often weren’t home. The landlord herself did not live on-site. There was a washer/dryer in the house, but it was coin operated. I’m sure we’ve just been spoiled with our current place. Still, $5 to do a cycle does seem like a lot.

The backyard was gorgeous. It seemed to go on and on. The main floor neighbours had a lovely set up that I’m sure is fantastic in the summer. Double doors that opened up to a wooden ramp, which extended to an elevated wooden platform. They had a cluster of patio furniture underneath tarps. I bet it all comes out great. The neighbours had play equipment in their yard, so they’re either a family with young kids or they’re adults who are our kind of people. There was a tiny shed at the back of the property, which the landlord said we’d be welcome to use, but ultimately not a lot of space for storing a bike. So maybe that’d mean locking them to the railings on the front deck? Not ideal, but once again, not a dealbreaker.

Pros and cons all the way down. It’s the first place we’ve seen, so it’s too soon to have a firm view. We have just over two months, so it’s not a race either.

Still, it’s not too soon for me to hate all of this.

Sweater weather

Well I feel like wet garbage.

I don’t know what exactly has me down, but I feel cold and flu-esque. My skin is ultra sensitive, my muscles ache, I’m mega congested. I spent most of last night in bed just tossing and turning around. It felt like purgatory. I’d turn one way, settle in, then feel uncomfortable and turn the other way. I don’t know how much sleep I actually got, but I imagine it was in the realms of 4-5 hours if even. According to this article I read yesterday, that ain’t enough. The article says eight hours or bust, basically. That while we think we’re doing fine on fewer, we ain’t. That the cumulative effect of losing an hour daily can be tantamount to feeling drunk. Maybe 2020 is the year I finally tackle my dislike of slumber. Much as I don’t want to be sleeping that much, if it’s the healthy and responsible choice, I’m getting too old not to make those. It only gets worse from here on out, and the undesirable task of mitigating that falls to me. Gross. Is that what growing old is all about?

I’m honestly kind of gutted to be missing work today. It’s my first sick day as an independent contractor. Without paid sick leave, there’s a very real cost to being sick. I’m impressed that this is the first time since I started in September that I’ve had to stay home. Still, I could use the funds. We’re going to Montreal over the weekend for a wedding. So yes, money could be handy (as if it’s ever not), but I think it’s more important to take the time and heal up, rather than potentially ruining a trip. I’ve got a few days to right myself, or at least to get to a place where meds can do the heavy lifting. It’s gonna be cold and snowy no doubt. Montreal in January tends to be. Last year when we walked down the road in Montreal, cars were entirely covered by snow. It was nuts, and felt like we’d strolled through a blizzard. If I don’t get healthy soon, I really will be under the weather. Pun 1000% intended.

I’m actually pretty excited for this trip. I love weddings, and while I don’t know this couple super well, I do know them as abundantly loving, creative people. I’m sure it’s gonna be a fantastic ceremony, but moreso it’s gonna be a great crowd to spend time with. As far as I understand, there are a few group activities, and the wedding itself has involved a lot of communal work. The bridal party is quite extensive and close-knit. My girlfriend is part of it. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve cooked up, and the special touches that the ceremony will exhibit.

Right now though, I’m looking forward to kicking this flu to the curb.

Good news if you wanted to live in an escape room

I have nothing significant to say, and I feel more than borderline sick, so why not write?

I feel conflicted writing about shows I’ve done Described Video for. Most of them have yet to air, so that seems tantamount to spoilers? I don’t know that anyone would care, but something about it still seems iffy. For the first time in so very long, I really like my job. If there was any way my behaviour could lead to losing it, that’d be good behaviour to avoid. That said, I was watching a show last night where two characters wanted to have sex but OH NO, they were out of condoms. They had a chat about whether or not they had to use them, because she was on birth control. She was like “well, how about we both get tested, and try this again tomorrow night?” It read as if there was some causality implied. They’d get the tests, and if they were both STI free, they’d have sex sans condoms. Have these writers ever had a check up? What kind of place do they go where they’re getting instant answers? Every time I’ve had a sexual health check up they’ve been like “here, pee in this plastic container and if you never hear from us again, you’re all good.” It’s not the biggest issue in the world, but it also seems a little odd that nobody in the writer’s room would speak up. It’s great they’re encouraging check ups, but it would’ve been nice to handle those little details. I mean, look, I’m not asking for them to do a detailed scene where these characters sideline the plot to get check ups. It wasn’t even a big plot point. I dunno, just felt lazy. I’m sure very few viewers even batted an eye.

In other news, the Ford government is back on its bullshit. For those too lazy to click, they’re essentially trying to bring in changes allowing developers to hire their own building inspectors. I can’t imagine a world where this is a good idea. I’m not gonna pull any Chicken Little rhetoric here, but I get the sense that this would lead to a ton of rushed jobs, where safety concerns went largely ignored. The chances of developers hiring inspectors who were fully impartial, and held building codes and standards with the respect they deserve, seem incredibly low. Like most of the Ford government’s policies, it seems the type that favours those with money at the expense of those without. The rich folks sure aren’t gonna have to live in these potentially unsafe hovels. They’re not gonna be so desperate that they’ll opt for subpar accommodations. If the province is SO worried about the abundance of inspections required and the lack of inspectors, why not pump money into hiring more inspectors? There are already institutions that perform these exact jobs, and it seems a ton easier than creating the infrastructure required for adequate additional training. It’s not like I’m well learned in these matters, but I’m not sure Ford sees a lack of education as an issue. I mean, it never stopped him.

Also, just a reminder that the Ford government removed rent caps for any properties built after November 2018. So if you’re getting one of these new rush jobs, it may be potentially unsafe, and they can raise your rent as they see fit. For the people, eh? Cool, just when we’re looking to find a new place. Will the fun never cease?

For me it will. I’m out.