I haven’t blogged in a very long time. I find it easiest to blog in times of sorrow and without too much sorrow these days I haven’t felt inspiration to write anything worthy of being read by the public.

Today I got an idea, however, to do a blog on my money saving tips. Everyone likes to save money and I think saving where you can is smart, no matter who you are. Saving money isn’t always easy because it can require waiting to buy something until it goes on sale or shopping around for the best deal before you buy. I am going to do a list of what i think are best ways save, please comment if you have others!

1. Use coupons!!!! I used to think I was above coupons until I realized I am definitely not above saving money! Coupons are readily available all over the place. My favourite sites are smartcanucks.ca and save.ca for the best up to date info on the latest opportunities to save. Another great thing to realize is that most brands offer regular coupons for their products, for instance Procter and Gamble, who have a large line of products, have a site called brandsaver.ca and will mail you the coupons you tell them you want and sometimes even free samples. Stores used to be more confused when I brought in printed off coupons but now it seems to be more normal for them to see. If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets the coupon books in the mail, look at them before you throw them out — these are often the same ones you can get online but sometimes they are different. The key is though is to remember that even if there is a coupon if it isn’t something you need, don’t buy it — coupons can tend to draw people towards buying things they normally wouldn’t and that makes couponing counter productive.

2. Shop around!!! Some people say they don’t have time or they couldn’t be bothered to do their research and that is how stores make their money. Retailers know that many people don’t know what the price is elsewhere because they just want to go to one store get everything they need and be done. For some people this might be necessary, or it might not matter, but for those of us who want to keep as much of our money in our own pockets shopping around is key. For instance we know where our yogurt, coffee and cereal are least expensive so we usually make a trip to grab those items and other things that might not differ much in price from another store and then do the rest of our shopping elsewhere. Obviously too much shopping around could be a waste of your time and gas if you drive from store to store to buying the best deals but it never hurts to know where to get the best deals.

Shoes and electronics are definite things you should shop around for. Luckily if you have a specific item or place in mind you can easily do a search online for price ideas. Most “name brand” shoes and electronics are carried by various retailers so you have different choices as to where you can buy what you are looking for. Stores are always having unique sales so make sure if you have something specific you want to buy that you see who sells it and how much each store has it on sale for at the time you want to buy it. If there is no price difference at the time you want to buy then choose the store you prefer or better yet, the one you can collect some kind of loyalty points at — Sport Check, Shoe Company and Visions for Airmiles, Best Buy for BB Rewards, etc.

3. Never pay retail for most of electronics, household items, beauty products, toiletries, furniture, appliances or over the counter pharmacuticals. All of these things (which is most things) go on sale ALL the time. The key to making sure you get a good deal is being patient, obviously there are times you might be in need and can’t wait, but most times you can.

Toilet paper is regular about $12 but usually once a month Shoppers and Safeway have it on sale for $5 — that’s huge savings on something you use a lot and just flush down the drain. Another huge potential savings is on laundry detergent and fabric softener. Laundry essentials go on sale regularily, just like almost everything, and it’s often for up to 50% off the regular price. Other great deals you see all the time include cleaners, like Lysol, Method and Mr. Clean, various brands of soap, body wash, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorant, all marked down at least $2-4. The best thing to do when these types of things are on sale is to stock up with a month or two supply while they are on sale so you have enough to last until they go back on sale. It’s extra savvy if you can manage to find a coupon to use while they’re also on sale.

Over the counter meds can be quite costly, especially for those of us who have allergies. Luckily for us, over the counter pharmacuticals like Tylenol, Reactine, Claratin, Aleeve and even vitamins go on sale regularily as well — they even usually have online coupons!

Some say that shopping at the Walmart and Superstores of the world are the best ways to save on that stuff anyway, no need to worry about Shopper’s or Safeway because they are too expensive. I usually buy from Walmart or Superstore if the product isn’t on sale and I really need it, because their regular prices are usually always the lowest, but Safeway and Shopper’s sale prices are generally the best you can get.

Name brand beauty products usually sell for the same price at all vendors, it doesn’t vary much unless they go on sale. Shopper’s beauty boutiques can have 30-40% off some of their top brand names like Vichy, Roc, La Roche Possay, etc. so look out for them and stock up on the expensive products you need while the going is good! Why pay $30 for your cleanser when you can pay $20?

For bigger ticket items, any of you who can’t afford to, or don’t want to, spend the kind of money Pottery Barn and the like charge for furniture, or you are intimidated about needing a new fridge, remember that there are stores like The Brick, Leon’s and even Sears that have a variety of products always going on sale. Promotions for furniture and appliances are always happening and you can usually barter a bit at the Brick and Leon’s or get better pricing when you bundle things (ie: washer and dryer; fridge and stove; couch and love seat).

Electronics, like everything else listed above, are always going on sale as well. TVs, computers, tablets, video games — you name it, it will likely go on sale. If you can wait a couple of weeks to buy a new TV you could save big. Stores bank on impusle buying and if you can be the opposite of an impulse buyer you will save yourself a lot of money. You should usually always choose Best Buy as well. Best Buy will match the price of any store that has the product cheaper, which rarely happens for me because they’re usually always cheapest, and the process is generally painless. Another great thing about Best Buy is that if you buy a product that goes on sale or is marked down even less than you bought it for you have 30 days to get the difference refunded. I bought my boyfriend a video game he wanted for Christmas that cost $60 and I went in a week before Christmas to see it marked down to $40. I went to the customer service desk, didn’t even have my recipt just the credit card I paid with, and they found my transaction and refunded me $20 — I do suggest having a receipt to ensure you get your refund though.

4. Try not to pay retail for clothes and shoes either. As a woman it is hard to resist a cute shirt or nice pair of boots but shopping is one of the worst hobbies you can have, especially when it’s on clothes and shoes. I used to buy all kinds of expensive clothes and shoes, and although sometimes it’s good to pay for quality you can over pay for a lot of crap too. Stores like Smart Set, Fairweather, Le Chateau & GAP have some really over priced items. What makes the overpricing worse is that when they mark them down they are generally a fraction of the price, how crappy does it make you feel when a top you spent $60 on gets marked down to $25 or even just $40? The best part is a lot of these shirts end up getting snags or those micro holes we never know how we get and the lifetime of that $60 shirt is cut short. Unless you need an outfit for something specific or you just have money to burn, watch your clothes and shoes spending and watch for the sales. My favourite store to get sales on name brand clothes is The Bay. The Bay always has something on sale but when they have Bay Days or seasonal clearances the mark downs are up to 70% off! I’ve gotten $140 Ralph Lauren dresses for $40, $60 bathing suit tops for $20, $90 pants for $26, $110 BCBG dress for $30… and the list goes on. Why pay more when you can be patient and pay less? Also remeber not to buy just because it’s on sale! How many of us buy something because it’s on sale and never wear it? Always be selective, even with sale items, don’t lower your standards just increase your awareness to pricing.

5. Don’t stay faithful to brands or retailers. Sorry to tell you but as loyal as you are there is no trophy at the end of 5 years to thank you for being a loyal shopper. We are all just another number to most retailers and as helpful as staff can be, you’re still not getting anything out of being loyal. If the same product is cheaper somewhere else, go there. If Purex is $4.99 and you usually use Royal but it’s regular price at $12, buy the damn Purex!

Some people do need to use specific products due to allergies or like to use specific products because of preference but most of us don’t have allergies and preference is subjective. For most things, brand doesn’t make a difference and for people with allergies there are still coupons and sales for your items!!

6. Don’t be afraid to shop online. Sometimes online shopping is an even better deal than in store sales because often times you can also find online promo codes that will give you further discounts than the already marked down pricing that you would get in store. One of my favourite sites,  bargainmoose.ca, usually has the most reliable codes but sometimes the retailer’s Facebook or Twitter accounts will provide special codes to their followers beyond those you find on savvy saving websites. Make sure you are getting free shipping to make the online purchase worth it though — or find a free shipping code! Indigo usually has really awesome online pricing.

How does one blog when their mind is in a state of constant chaos? There are so many things going on in my brain, yet I don’t even know how to organize them well enough into written word to share. Moments like these, of overwhelming thought without means of expression, reinforce the fact that being a good writer is definitely a talent; blogging for the sake of blogging doesn’t really do it, despite what some may think. I feel as though my thoughts are meaningful, interesting and sometimes even humorous,  likely even things other people would like to read about, but I just struggle more and more every day to share them.

I think wherein the problem lies is that I have been mentally and physically stressed since 2012 rolled in. Coping with the grave loss and sudden responsibility that came at me all at once was difficult. Although things did work themselves out in a lot of ways, the year was one of deep internal struggle for me.

Despite knowing that I found much happiness throughout the year, my emotions feel like they were set to hypersensitivity mode. I found myself well into a new relationship which, although it made me happy, made me extremely anxious. I think at a certain point, once you have experienced so much heartache and you finally find something that gives you joy you are automatically programed to fear it to a certain degree. Why would you want to risk enjoying the way someone or something makes you feel, as good as it can be, when you know how bad the other end of that spectrum feels? Why enjoy something that you know could be very temporary?

My guard really went up after the fall of 2011, quite literally.

As much progress as I thought I had made by mid-year, it wasn’t long before I was derailed again. Two months shy of the one year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing my mother was diagnosed with the same deadly disease, Breast Cancer. I felt broken. Once word gets out everyone tries to give you some solace with their empty words, but what most of them don’t understand is that it only makes it worse. Why are YOU sorry to hear the news? Do you actually care how we feel? Damnit, why do my feelings even matter? How dare I feel hurt, I’m not even the one who has to go through this. But I do feel hurt. I feel heartbroken again and I haven’t even lost anyone this time. Am I allowed to feel this way? Why am I even thinking about me right now? The whole situation made me angry, the things I was thinking made me angry.

The idea of having to go through the same routine our family thought we would never need to live again made me sick. My paternal grandmother died of Breast Cancer when I was a toddler, my great aunt in 2010 and my maternal grandmother in 2011. To even fathom that this disease was rearing its head in my family again was nauseating, I can’t quite describe what the news did to me mentally and physically. I still don’t have the exact words, and I’m not sure anyone can really understand it, which is the worst part.

Although the diagnosis was completely different in stages, severity, etc., than my grandmother’s advanced case, or any of the other cases my family had experienced, I felt defeated. After the initial shock, my mom was surprisingly strong and positive however, much like my grandmother grew to be. This surprisingly positive outlook on the situation made me wonder how I could feel so negative. Does diagnosis put everything into perspective for the patient? Do they just magically realize that positivity is the best option? How much of their own internal struggle are they not sharing with me? Why do they feel as though they can’t or don’t want to share their true feelings?

I have so many questions, no longer about the physical consequences of the illness, but rather the mental consequences. Having gone through this a time or two, the science of what is going on, what chemo does to the body, how radiation helps, how the stages are classified, etc. is understandable. What I am having a hard time understanding is the mental struggle, the mental stresses this causes. I know how terrible being indirectly associated with this disease has made me feel but I don’t know if I will ever understand how they feel. Heck I still don’t really understand why I feel the way I do about it sometimes either. I have made a point to go to every chemotherapy treatment so far, and I will be there for the final one in on March 6th as well, but just seeing my mom go through it all kills me. I feel horrible knowing what the “medicine” is doing to her body, although it helps in the long run, and I feel even more guilty for not showing more compassion when my grandmother had to go through it. Is it possible that life is making me relearn this lesson in compassion because I didn’t learn it well enough the first time?

The guilt and pain I feel is so unbearable at times. Dear fellow bloggers and people of the e-universe who may read this, I hope you never have to feel the way I do, let alone the way those I love have had to in dealing with this illness. My loving boyfriend and some of my family are volunteering as crew for the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer this June in memory of those we love and in hopes for those we will love into the future, if you care to donate please follow the link – Enbridge Ride.

 

Lately I have taken notice of the large number of public/private sector career swaps. Specifically, a lot of women I work with seem to be rushing out to have children or newly returning after taking years of leave to raise their children. It’s kind of difficult not to notice the changes, as it seems to be creating quite the scramble when it comes to re-staffing, workload adjustments and keeping our departments running smoothly. What I also find interesting, and which makes sense, is that women tend to start making these significant changes in their career roles leading up to the time when they decide to have children or the time when they have decided they are done having children. A lot of women in the public sector have left private sector jobs in preparation for upcoming motherhood or, soon after returning from having their last child, leave for the private sphere.

Due to the significantly better benefits offered and more leniency in leave timelines when women go on maternity leave, it’s hard not to be attracted to what the general public service offers a working woman (or man) who is interested in taking paternity leave. With over 90% of your salary still being paid out while on your one year leave, the financial burdens of having a child are that much less than the average family who generally don’t see that much of their income coming in when they take leave. Additionally, from what I can tell, there is a lot of effort put into accommodating maternity leaves and even accommodating extra time off if requested once the one year lapses. I’ve never really worked in the private sector seriously, or long enough, to notice any trends in their maternity leaves or the way they handle them. I do however see, especially in an higher level role, the private sector (or even the upper echelons of the public sector) potentially having a bit of anxiety and distaste when their female employees approach the topic of needing time off in increments of a year to have babies.

I would say the age range for mat leave is around 28 – 37 years old. Noticing that this demographic is somewhat older than those on episodes of Teen Mom,  further indicates to me that they, more likely than not, chose to become established in their careers before deciding to have their children.

What I begin to wonder though, as a young women getting into the groove of things (ie: life), is where I will fit in to this? With 4 years to go until I fall into “the range” will my fertile years begin to work against me? Do employers look at your potential to “move up” based on the possibility of you leaving to start a family? Do newlyweds have a stigma among employers? My current employer seems to embrace marriages and new babies, but I do notice that there is underlying sighs of “this again” when they realize they have to completely re-staff to backfill leaves and the coming waves of baby booms, but I still wonder how everything works in minds of those people in the background making the staffing decisions.

If I choose to be one of those women who want to have a career and a family will the choice to do both work against me? Is it enviable that men remain in high ranking leadership roles largely due to the fact that you can, most often than not, count on them to be the ones continuing to work when they have children? If I want to have children in the next 5- 10 years do I remain in the public sector to reap in the benefits of their mat leave “packages”, or do I go where the wind takes me and potentially risk moving into a private sector job that resents my choice to raise a family?

Further to the aforementioned questions, if I wanted to become a woman of power and obtain an executive level position do I have to wait to work my way up until I am out of my child bearing years? I feel as though it is rare to see higher ranking women in their late twenties or early 30s, unless they are women who have chosen not to have families, and that kind of disappoints me. Do we have to choose one or the other? Do we have to remain in lower level “minion-esque” roles until we are done with having children? Does taking maternity leave in the middle of your prime career development years kill your progress?

I’d like to think that this ever developing world we live in is becoming more accommodating to people’s lifestyles and trying to promote a “work-life balance” but I still can’t kick the feeling that there is an underlying resentment towards women who want motherhood and a career. Does one of these roles need to take a backburner or can you have it all?

I guess my question in summary comes down to — does having a uterus and wanting to use it work against women in the working world?

 19 days after our Canada Day celebrations I figured I would make this post.

Lately I have been making a point to see more of my own country, in part due to the fact that I don’t have enough money to do much extensive travelling at the moment and in part due to the fact that I realized I haven’t really explored it much. I happen to live within a short distance of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and I don’t take advantage of it the way I should. I’ve officially travelled quite a bit of British Columbia now and lots of my home province, Alberta. I have yet to venture east or north, but considering my job and recent amazement with my latest findings I think I will make a point of taking those north and eastward trips.

Below are a few pictures I have taken on my recent ventures — enjoy!

Finances are more often than not a stressing issue for families and individuals alike. Generally even if we have enough, we still want more, and if we don’t have enough we stress about ways to find it.

Personally, as a single person living on my own, I loathe the encroaching moments when things are tight and I struggle to make mortgage payments, student loan payments, utility payments while still try to manage to have money left over for groceries and minimal socializing. The levels of anxiety the feeling of not having enough money causes is frightening. I realize having a job and a mortgage to worry about, let alone affording a social life, should be considered luxuries compared to the lives of many people, but I still don’t know many who don’t wish their salary was higher or that their yearly pay increments were more than 2% at a time.

I don’t take for granted that I have a stable job that pays me enough to survive but it almost seems as though basic survival is definitely a thing of the past, people aren’t interested in only sustaining their needs they additionally look to meet the numerous wants they have. Is it possible to be happy with only the essentials or are we naturally programmed to want more once we’ve meet our basic needs? If we haven’t fulfilled our basic needs do we not yearn for more, or do wants sometimes outweigh necessity? I’ve seen people stapped for cash, $50 short of rent money go buy a pack of smokes and McDonald’s for dinner instead of logically putting that money towards the bigger conern, but what drives us to do these things? Is advertising to blame? Are we more concerned about keeping up with the Jones’ than our own well being? Do we even really want all these “extras” or do we just acquire them because it seems like a good idea?

I often envy friends who live in the ideal “DINK” (Double Income, No Kids) situation where they have essentially double the income, shared expenses, and usually less debt because they have more money to put towards it. The DINK lifestyle additionally in turn comes with more vacations, nicer things, more frequent outings, etc. – who wouldn’t like that? Having someone to share the financial burden and an increased disposable income definitely alleviates a lot of money stress and feeds the desires for material wealth, playing perfectly into the wants based society we all live in. Don’t assume I am bitter though please, I aspire to be a DINK one day too, but until then I do take pride in the fact that I am making a go of things on my own and surviving.

I did recently, however, have my somewhat of a pity party regarding my lonely struggles put into perspective when I read the 2008-2010 stats Canada national income averages. When you learn that someone in your same “category” makes $10-15, 000 less than you do on average, you start to realize that maybe you’re not so bad off. I regularly wonder how I make it through, but I couldn’t even fathom the idea of making even a couple of hundred dollars less, let alone thousands less. The idea of not being able to afford paying the bills I have presently frightens me, what frightens me more though, is that I would almost be willing to give up some of the more essential luxuries I have like cable and an amped up cell phone plan in lieu of giving up my social life and car I rarely use.

What would you be willing to sacrifice in the name of something else more important to you, but still frivolous in the eyes of many?

There are always certain topics of debate that people with similar interests can find themselves having. From sports to music to politics, there is generally always room for opinion and debate — sometimes even too much room. As a music lover, specifically I guess under the “rock and roll” genre (which we could debate about too) there is one question I am trying to pin point an answer for. No it isn’t which version of Hurt is better, Johnny Cash’s or Nine Inch Nails’, although I still debate the question often, but rather one even more broad — what are the top 10 timeless rock tunes? When I say timeless I mean songs pretty well everyone in the room would know if it were to be played in a social setting, songs a majority of people can agree one. However, just because everyone knows the song doesn’t mean the song is good  or to be auto considered for the top 10, so we must also include a level of greatness in regards to the musical talent within the songs.

The following are my top 10 timeless rock tune picks, in random order —

1. Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here”
This was a toss up between “Wish You Were Here” and “Comfortably Numb” — both such gems, but which one is superior to the other? I chose “Wish You Were Here” partially because I think more people would know it, and partially for the classic “we’re just two lost souls living in a fish bowl, year after year…” lyric. This does not disregard the brilliance of “Comfortably Numb”.

2. The Beatles – “Eleanor Rigby”
This one may be a bit bias, okay they all may be, but I particularly love this Beatles song. I realize The Beatles have a multitude of music, and I am an avid lover of them, but there is just something about the melody and quickness of this song in combination with the lyrics that gets me every time. Also, who doesn’t love some violin? “Eleanor Rigby” is a 2 minute bit of perfection, in my mind.

3.The Ramones – “Blitzkrieg Bop”
I know a few people who actually tell me they don’t enjoy The Ramones, however, this song is brilliant (I already used that word to describe something already but it really is brilliant). I tend to have a thing for songs that reference historical events and/or monumental things, thus, how can I not love a song titled after a German tactic from World War II?

4. The Strokes – “Last Nite”
I flipping love this tune! Anytime this song comes on the radio or in the bar I feel happy. It may be that I associate it with good memories but I really do think this song is timeless. Anyone who is cool would know it and sing along with me! Tis one of a kind.

5. Neil  Young – “Rockin’ in the Free World”
Another artist who makes it difficult to chose a best song from — also Canadian! This was a toss up between my final selection and “Heart of Gold”. I feel like more people definitely know “Rockin’ in the Free World” and it just feels good to belt out and dance around too. What person hasn’t gone through a phase of far left peace loving empowered by “Rockin’ in the Free World” and like songs?

6. Led Zeppelin – “Black Dog”
Gotta love Led Zeppelin and their never ending songs. Strangely this song is unusually shorter than many of their other masterpieces. Another toss up between this pick and “Dazed and Confused” or “Stairway to Heaven”. I don’t know what to say about this song and why I picked it, other than saying it is awesome, and pumps any person in their right mind up! Oh, snap I sound like such a loser, but we’re all friends so let’s sound like losers together and “Ahhhh ahhh ahhh ahhh” together. “Stairway to Heaven” is such a long song, I often wonder if people ever listen to it completely through.

7. Nirvana – “In Bloom”
I am a huge fan of the early 90s grunge, so I had to include some of that goodness. Although I am slightly obsessed with Pearl Jam, I do think Nirvana is more timeless in certain aspects — don’t hate me Eddie. I am sure you may tire of my telling you about the dilemmas I had choosing, but again, Nirvana has so many gooders — “Polly”, “Rape Me”, “Come As You Are”, “Heart Shaped Box” and the list goes on. “In Bloom” however is that classic one, suitably agnsty and catchy enough that people love it. Again, I am sure many of you have been caught singing this out loud at one point or another in your life, if not — you will!

8. The White Stripes – “Seven Nation Army”
Jack white is pretty damn awesome, one of his many projects needed to make my list. I pick “Seven Nation Army” because that infectious drum beat with the guitar paired in is pretty unmistakable. The song is no doubt a classic, although newer than a lot of the aforementioned, it won’t be dying anytime soon.

9. The Rolling Stones – “Paint it Black”
Hell yes I love this one too, go figure?! This is an epic song, the fact that my boss can strum it on his guitar quietly in our office one day and suddenly have everyone around singing along says something. I bet you sing this song in your head when you seen red doors, don’t deny it!

10. Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Simply because this song is so dynamic. Additionally, it’s fun to sing or watch other people sing. Power to all the Freddies out there!!

Songs such as Journey – “Don’t Stop Believing” got automatically disqualified from selection due to the fact that I am actually tired of hearing it. I’m sure Journey doesn’t mind the popularity of their hit since Glee killed it into the brains of youth everywhere, but I do. Furthermore, it was quite difficult for me not to include Blue Oyster Cult, because I love me some cow bell, but I am not convinced everyone else does enough to argue it as timeless.

Here it is, the long awaited second excerpt from the pseudo-memoire I have been working on for what seems like an eternity. By presenting it like that, I sound like I actually have a following or a fan club but I am pretty sure that’s not exactly the case. Needless to say, here it is —

It was my second date with Distracted and for some reason I didn’t feel as excited to be hanging out with him as I remember myself being the first time. To be honest, he didn’t even look as physically attractive to me tonight as he did on the first date.  These feelings, or lack thereof, I believe were definitely result of his overwhelming stench of desperation for attention, yet disinterest in making any kind of effort. His “I’m bored” text messages every other night for the past week and a half were getting irritating. What grew to be more irritating was the fact that he never suggested we hang out anytime he sent one. It appears as though he figured bitching to me about having nothing to do was a good enough alternative. In my view however, this isn’t exactly the best way to get someone to hang out with you, or me to at least. Last time I checked when you were interested in hanging out with someone, and you have confirmed that the person you want to hang out with is also available you generally use that window of opportunity to ask if they would like to hang out with you. Maybe I am the only one who sees the logic in this, but I am pretty confident I am not alone. I can only begin to imagine how much fun initiating sex with him could be.

I may sound like a giant asshole when I say that because there could be several reasons someone would be reluctant to ask someone else out, simply due to things like fear of rejection or past mishaps. I, for one, can relate. I suck when it comes to making myself fully available to someone else because I’ve been burned but I acknowledge it and try to keep myself in check. Regardless, I have a theory that, as a man, you should exude some kind of manliness within the first couple of dates anyway, and being whiney about boredom, of all things, without having the balls to simply say “Hey let’s hang out”  if that is what you are interested in doing, isn’t exactly hot. As part of this theory, I also think that men are more aware of whether or not they are interested in continuing to pursue someone because women are the type who will, more often than not, always agree to a second date. My theories could very well be part of why I am still single, but I like to think of it as a fool proof system for weeding out the men who aren’t serious enough about dating me, and I am just not convinced giving  the man the responsibility to ask for a second date is too much to ask. I also pretty well lay out my theory to all the men I go on dates with so they know what I expect,  if anything it opens a good forum for debate. If that level of assertion from me is intimidating to them then I have an issue imagining us having any type of future together anyway.

Needless to say, there we were, finally on a second date, sitting at the pub having a blasé conversation about our days while he mulled over the menu. His lack of decisiveness while sitting there just trying to choose something off the menu began to irritate me too; I began wondering if this man could make any decisions in an efficient manner.  To make matters worse, while we sat there on this second date all he could seem to pay attention to was providing commentary to the various sporting events on the televisions surrounding us. I understand men enjoy sports, heck I don’t mind watching them either, but I don’t think I am alone when I say it is pretty bad practice to pay attention to everything except your date. A few dates down the road, or one day when we are hanging out on the couch at home, feel free to make all the sports commentary you like. Second date rule of thumb, I would say maybe make more effort to have conversation and get to know your date better. To make matters worse, he even went as far as pointing out a girl standing at the bar and commented on how manly her body looked – at least he didn’t tell me how hot she was right?

As a public servant I have taken to paying far more attention to what is going on in government, which is likely a good thing. Most recently, with the submission of Bill C-38 to parliament, my colleagues and I, as well as much of Canada, are feeling the effects of this rapidly passing new act. I have no better way to describe this latest act than as daunting. Well over 50 pieces of legislation are being “tweaked” in this over 450 page mega document.

I’ve decided to compile a list of observations I have made and encourage Canadians who are unfamiliar with what is going on to do some research:

1. The act is enormous and broad – CON
I see it as somewhat unsettling that the government has bundled so many changes into one document with the expectation that fellow members of parliament are going to be able to fully wrap their head around it and feel comfortable with what they are approving or denying. I realize this is all part of the majority rule advantage but I strongly believe that it should have been divided into a few different bills grouping together similar legislation so that the changes could be debated more closely and thoroughly.

2. The timeline for approval is very condensed – CON
Taking into consideration the previously mentioned point about how large and broad this act is, the fact that the timelines for approval are so condensed is also alarming. Had the act been divided into sections these timelines would seem more reasonable, but it isn’t divided, and the speed at which this document is passing through readings is a little insane. This naturally makes me question how  well it is being reviewed and how fair the whole process is being run.

3. Stricter regulations for obtaining EI – PRO
How can this not be good? I think encouraging people to look for work and providing them with more resources to do so is fantastic. In the same breath, I also think that making the criteria for obtaining EI more specific is equally great in efforts to discourage the abuse of the system. I know EI is needed for many and I have no problem with helping out those who need the temporary help, but I absolutely do not like that it is being used as a regular source of income for many who can’t seem to understand the concept of working consistent jobs to sustain themselves.

4. Environmental well being is being overshadowed by the economic well being – PRO/CON
The amendments being presented in regards to environmental protection and assessments within regulatory processes are quite significant. The changes suggest that the processes are going to be accelerated and the requirements in this realm less stringent. I see this as both good and bad, as fast tracking certain economically beneficial projects can be very good for our nation, but at the expense of the environment? Will these decisions being made sound as good 5 years from now? Will the changes being made in regards to the environment be as detrimental as people are anticipating?

5. Independent regulatory departments are losing independence – CON
It appears as though more, “overriding” type authorities are being given to ministers, executives, etc. in these formerly quite independent departments. Essentially, depending on the government and individuals, higher ups could make their own decisions if they so choose to, despite the fact that it would go against the current system and be undemocratic of them to do so. Ex: an NDP government could kibosh proposed energy projects in the name of the environment or something of the sort, where as Conservative government could accelerate and over-approve them all in the name of the economy.

6. The name of the act is misleading – CON
For the Conservative government looking to get this act to pass quickly it could be very beneficial that they disguised the contents of the act by calling it “Budget Implementation”  but it distracts many Canadians from looking further into what it actually encompasses.

7. The “Budget Implementation Act” is being reviewed by the finance committee – CON
Contrary to the title of the act, there are way more items within it than those that are budget related. I have a hard time imagining what kind of expertise the finance committee is going to have when it comes to pipeline projects, environment and other non-finance related business.

8. Elimination of the role of Inspector General (CSIS) – CON
Considering this position deals with highly sensitive information and national security I don’t think it should be bundled into such a large bill and overlooked because it needs more focus and discussion than is being allotted to it. Not having the extra “check and balance” of the IG potentially means less privacy for the public and more room for error. I believe CSIS is an important agency and this position’s elimination could cause detriment.

9. OAS age of eligibility from 65 to 67 – PRO
I, contrary to many, believe this is a good thing and don’t quite understand the outrage around it. Statistics show clearly that people are living longer, which for government means paying out OAS for a longer period of time which makes it all the more expensive for them. Additionally, if people are living longer they are likely healthier implying they may be able to work longer as well. I am not sure how significantly the small increase by 2 years affects people and it isn’t a new concept as countries all over Europe increased their retirement ages to 67 years ago.

10. Increase in decision appeals – CON
Due to powers being shifted, “strict” decision timelines for projects (ex: applications submitted to the NEB) being implemented, and environmental assessment amendments there is a lot of room for companies and individuals to move to appeal them. Increasing appeals will tire resources and potentially put significant strain on our system.

As a western Canadian who spent the majority of my youth in French school I had a much better appreciation for the French Canadian identity than many of my fellow westerners ever did. I enjoyed the once a year Carnival celebrations where we circled around troughs of ice at the cabane à sucre to get our maple syrup on a stick, ate poutine in the cafeteria all week and listened to luberjack-esque men playing French Canadian folk music. I even argued that it would be quite upsetting to see Quebec separate if ever a referendum produced that consensus from the people. Blame these sentiments partially on the fact that I love history and rich culture; in my mind having this whole other Canadian identity and second language made Canada seem all the more intriguing. I probably even, as a young and naive socialist adolescent who had yet to discover reality, liked the idea of their “hippie” protesting past.

Today, I still appreciate these things to an extent, but I have grown strongly in favour of putting Quebec in its place, and I was likely one of many who rejoiced in the fall of the Bloc Quebecois last federal election. I never understood how a separatist party was ever allowed to participate so significantly (or at all) at the federal level, but it happened, and for far too many years. I have additionally grown to dislike the fact that there is such a hate on for the west, and specifically the west’s economic strength, when that is what largely funds those in the east — it’s like me mocking my employer all day and still expecting to have a job, usually this would be unfathomable.

What really pisses me off though, is the current student protest against the $1625 tuition increase over the next 5-7 years BS that is going on. Quebec already pays some of the lowest tuition in the country, and mostly thanks to the money the west sends them. I realize education is important, and to some degree I do believe it should be more available to anyone who would like to further their education. I however don’t think it should be free, I already know how little kids I went to university with on their parent’s dime cared, I could only imagine what it would be like if the government was picking up the tab. I do agree that post secondary is pretty expensive but it is what it is. Let’s face it, we don’t live in France where we are taxed out the huzzah to offset costs of these big ticket items and at the end of the day, I don’t want to fund some asshole who thinks becoming a professional student is a good career path, especially since the government allowing him to do so affordably enables him to live off the rest of us, who actually work, for eternity.

I wasn’t from a wealthy family and my parents were not able to pay for my education so I did what many do, got loans! Oh my gawd!I think I actually appreciated the whole experience more too as I knew I was responsible for paying back the money I was borrowing and it was a constant reminder of why I needed to do well so I didn’t have to do it again, and double my expenses. On that note, what makes this whole protest even more irritating is that the current tuition rates I have seen range from $2000 to about $4000 a year for Quebec residents. 6 years ago when I started university I paid over $5000 and the increases through my 4 years there ended at my paying just over $7000 a year in 2010. In just 4 years, I saw an increase in well over what the students in Quebec are protesting against and I was already paying more than they pay for their tuition now. Don’t think I ever enjoyed the fact that my tuition increased, or that I didn’t feel some angst, I just see this whole situation in Quebec very disheartening. People who have it good, tend to find more flaws in what they have rather than appreciate it, and that sucks, especially since it is now getting even more out of control than it was in the beginning.

When protests become violent, people get injured and property gets destroyed, you really start to distract people away from what you are really there for. Heck, the fact that you are disturbing the peace and vandalizing the city just increases spending of tax payer dollars that would potentially be helpful for going towards your “outlandish” tuition fees. Seriously, get a fucking grip! Often times youth empathize with youth movements, and in general people with like views will empathize with movements they see demonstrating a fight to express and or protect those similar views they share. This protest however, from what I can see, doesn’t have many youth outside of the group in Quebec who are trying to hold on to their idea of a utopic world supporting them because we live in the real world and we know how much more difficult it is for us with the higher tuition and cost of living out west, but guess what — we managed. It’s even more disgusting that they have the gall to insult fellow students who are choosing to go to school during these protests because they actually care about getting their education.

In my view, for those Quebec students who want to run around half naked sporting body paint and chanting at people you should grab a ticket to Shambalah or some other like festival in the forest. Can greater Canada take a referendum to decide whether or not we want to kick Quebec out? I’d love to see how much tuition would cost them as an independent nation.

Is it wildly inappropriate to compile all of my dating misfortunes into a novel? I have been working on a pseudo-memoir for quite some time, focusing specifically on my life events post university graduation, however, as I write on I begin to realize the majority of what I have to write about is my colourful dating life. I guess I wouldn’t be the first person to write about their dating life or to write about dating in general, but I almost feel like it could kill my karma for years to come. Then again it isn’t always my fault the dating experiences have been all kinds of “interesting” and I’m not looking to name names within my writings, even if the characters would be identifiable for those who were present in the real life version. Maybe I should wait until I am married until I release anything? I could single handily scare away all potential suitors by airing such dirty laundry, but hey, live life without regrets right? Ha.

I wonder if people think about the consequences of what they write before they do it? I have toiled with the idea of politics in my future and and I wonder if something like this, or even a personalized blog could be detrimental to those aspirations? It seems to be common practice that anything from someone running for office’s past can come back to haunt them during a campaign. I suppose what it may come down to is which passion is greater, and whether or not at the end of the day I mind if people know about this specific realm of my life. Who knows, maybe people will relate and appreciate it?

Regardless, below is an excerpt from chapter who knows what…

Two Drink Maximum

Although I am not a huge fan of reality television, one of my guilty pleasures is watching HGTV.  In the last year or so however the pleasure has extended to also loving a little Millionaire Matchmaker from time to time. I am quite confident that I am drawn to the show simply because I find comfort in knowing there are single people out there who have far worse dating experiences than I do.

For those of you unfamiliar with the show, a ground rule that Patti sets out before setting her clients up on dates is the two drink maximum rule. I usually wouldn’t think too much into this rule going on a first date with someone because I don’t drink a lot anyway and because first dates generally don’t last long enough to get shit show wasted. Needless to say, I found myself in a first date situation where all of those preconceived assumptions went out the window.

I had been chatting with this particular gentleman, let’s call him Misfit, for quite some time on one of the many online sites I have had unfortunate experience of using. Like the beginning of most online love affairs, it appeared as though we had a great connection, especially since it seemed as though we both had a deep love for music, and better yet, good music. If you haven’t already noted, I kind of love music, and a man who also loves music to similar extents could easily have my heart. Regardless, we seemed to get along well and there was not a shortage of conversation. I was in the process of heading home after a dinner with my mom when Misfit texted me and asked if was interested in meeting up for a drink, considering I was just heading home to do nothing and it was the weekend after all, why not? I was actually alright with the idea of having good conversation over a beer or two. I should have however realized the 10pm meet up time was probably not entirely appropriate for a first date and the fact that he transited to our decided location so he didn’t have to drink and drive were warning signs.