Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review: Solemate - Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life

I think that I might be the most lonely I have ever been right now. Mostly everyone I know is married (some with children). People who are married (or with children) rarely ask single people to hang out or go for dinner. I have in the past been quite a social director, planning this and that to get myself and others out of the house to do fun things. But it occurred to me recently that no one else does this - no one else goes out of their way to invite me out to do fun things. Is it because we're old and all anyone ever does is sit on their couch and watch Netflix? Or is it because everyone has someone and thus has no need to invite out the third wheel. Whatever the reason is, I'm extremely cranky about the whole situation right now.

I don't remember what it's like to be in love. I mean, I remember a few of the good parts, but not really the feeling parts. I want someone to sit on the couch and watch Netflix with too.

But it's not going to happen. I am no Sally Sunshine Supermodel. I don't normally meet men in real life and online dating sucks out my soul and destroys my confidence. Besides, everyone in my age bracket is already married. Or a sad hermit king. (And for the record, I like sad hermit kings. I'm drawn to them and they're drawn to me, like magnets. But they don't make for assertive boyfriends. Or any boyfriend at all. I think sad hermit kings only know how to friendzone. *sigh* .)

So if I really am going to be the sad hermit queen cranky spinster cat lady, it's time I got used to the idea, mourned the loss of any man touching me ever again, and got on to being content with my own company.

Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness and Transform Your Life
By Lauren Mackler
367 pages

I don't read self help books. Like, this is probably the third one I've ever read. They always sound preachy and condescending and fuzzy wuzzy. And this book was no different. Except she talked a lot about her life. Do all self help authors do that? I don't really care, just tell me how to not be broken.

There was a lot of those quizzes, or "write the answer down in a journal" or tracking feelings or whatever. Yeah I'm not doing that either. Just tell me how to not be broken.

So I skimmed the book. I did not learn 367 pages worth of stuff. But I did learn (not learn, have reconfirmed for me in a mostly non condescending tone) a few things, and a few things annoyed me to bits:
  • "The emotionally needy people in relationships - the 'Pursuers' - are continually fighting for closeness...The partners of these emotionally needy people  - 'Distancers' - are always fighting for their space...Such relationships turn into battlefields, breeding jealousy, insecurity, resentment and contempt." (p.30). Whoa. Yeah. I'm a Pursuer. 
  • "Lost Child - This is the child who tends to be insecure and/or self-doubting. Lost Children look to others to provide self-validation and esteem." (p. 62). Whoa. Yeah. That's me. Her other categories are Hero, Mascot and Rebel. She spends a lot of time blaming a person's current state of wellbeing on their family upbringing. Not totally untrue.
  • The chapter on fear did not to dispel my fear of dying alone. Fail. (ch. 4) (And no don't tell me church will solve that fear.)
  • Apparently being alone is a choice. I could choose to be in a relationship but I'm subconsciously choosing to be alone. So it's my fault. Really? Come on. Of course I could be in a horrible unfulfilling relationship in order to not be alone (see: settling). Stupid condescending crap. Not helpful. Don't make me feel guilty for not being on Plenty of Fish, make me feel better about choosing not too be on there. Stupid author. (p. 109).
  • Be discerning in your friendships (p. 163). Actually, I'm really trying to only spend time with people who don't make me feel like crap. So mostly I spend time alone because all the people I know lead busy lives with many other people in them and don't have time to care about me. But I'm trying.
  • "I'd like it if you'd be more sensitive to the fact that I'm single [not going to have a baby]; I'm alone [not a mother] by choice. I'd really like you to be supportive of my choice and my lifestyle. If you feel critical, I'd prefer that you not share those opinions when we're together." (p. 180). Oh I'm going to memorize that and bring it out next extended family Christmas dinner!
  • Actually ch. 7 on Becoming the Partner You Seek was not completely irrelevant. The Ideal Partner Gap exercise wasn't completely stupid (p. 218). If I want a partner, just so I can have someone to stand up for me, then maybe I should just stand up for myself. Too bad no one takes me seriously because I'm so damn cranky.
  • Ch. 9 is about building an inner and outer support system. I'm trying to do that, be less busy, relax more, be selfish and do stuff for me, exercise, eat better etc. I definitely need to find more supportive people to add to my life though. People who won't leave me for a wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/baby/child. Oh wait, this is full circle right where I started. (I should mention I do have a few really supportive people in my life, but inconveniently for me, they all seem to being going through major life crap right now and don't really have time to listen to me whine about being alone, which is an inconsequential problem compared to what they're going through. Selfish guilt. *sigh*.)
  • Eureka moment! Mostly what I want right now is someone to talk to - like actually talk, not the small talk stuff that happens with acquaintances or the superficial stuff that happens with colleagues - actual deep and meaningful conversations about life! Gah! If only! The solutions to this are to find a best friend. This is difficult. I get so close, and then that person leaves me for a significant other. Dammit! So then maybe I should find a significant other, but this involves online dating and that's soul destroying so I'm not doing. At the moment. I could go see a therapist. And actually, that's not a horrible idea - it would be someone to talk to anyway. But right now I'm not yet over the stigma of what that means for the state of my life.
Yeah, ok, so I learned a few things, but I am no less lonely. Not a complete waste of time, but also not necessarily worthy of a recommendation. As usual with self help books (and my entire Bachelor of Education degree), I learned what to do, but not how to do it. So I'll just keep on keeping on.

Maybe I'm just too jaded and cynical. And cranky.

Maybe I should just get another cat?

(Oh and thanks for reading the lonely rantings of a spinster cat lady. Don't judge.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 Canada Cup - Las Vegas Rocks

A year ago, last January, my mom was watching the Continental Cup. They announced that the 2016 event would be in Las Vegas and - much to my surprise - my mom decided she wanted to go. When your mom asks you to go on vacation, and you've never been on vacation with just your mom before, and you love curling, but you don't really like Vegas, what do you say? The answer could only be yes. So that week, we bought a hotel/event ticket package. Good thing, because it was popular and they opened up more hotels and eventually sold out!

Las Vegas is not my type of city. This I know. I was there for a bit in 2008 and decided it was everything I disagreed with. Waste of energy. Waste of water. Excess. Debauchery. And watching all those people gamble away their childrens' inheritances breaks my heart. But when your mom asks you to go on vacation, you say yes. And this was to be the first event since 2007 that I just watched and didn't work or volunteer!

So last week, we headed to the desert for some curling. We...and 9000 other Canadians!

The Event

I like the Continental Cup (volunteered in 2011) - it's a really fun event! North America vs The World, mixed up teams, doubles, singles (which they got rid of, boo!), curlers cheering on other curlers: guaranteed good time. And it was a good event.

In fact, the last end of the last draw was the most exciting 10 minutes of live curling I think I've ever seen! And I've seen 10+ major events, so that's saying something!

I also found myself liking skins and mixed doubles - 2 events I've never really taken to when watching on tv. I saw a ton of people I knew, starting with the officials we met on the plane down, and some familiar fans and staff. I like to think my mom was impressed I knew or recognized people around every corner. The curling world is a nice place to visit every once in awhile.

Opening Ceremonies. Not super Vegas, no showgirls or anything. Cute wee piper though.

Team meetings.


Treated to the Norwegian Pant Dance!  (This is my video, but here's the view from the front)

Eventually the showgirls showed up and Slider got into it! He even did the Norwegian Pant Dance at one point!

The next generation of curlers.

Dude is a star!

The end. So exciting!

Other than the watching-not-working, this curling event felt like one in Canada. The arena was nice. The curling was fun. The crowd was full of Canadian seniors. It was Vegas that was different.

The Hotel

Y'all forgot to tell me that people smoke cigarettes in casinos. Ew. Gross. The hotel was nice, and it was great being so close to the arena, but I just can't handle that smell. I had to get out of there over the lunch break and found myself walking laps around the outside, scanning license plates in the parking lots. The sun was out and it smelled mostly fresh. Ug. The stench of cigarettes. And for this reason alone, I probably won't ever go back for a Vegas curling event.

The City

We had a chance to walk the strip the day before we left. Vegas is as Vegas always is...something else. I think, like Paris, you need to go once in your life. I walked the sidewalks I walked in 2008. Some things were different, but some things were the same. And I finally got to Fremont Street! The light show was cool. The street, meh, not so much my thing.

The desert during the day.

The desert at sunset. Also a parking lot.

Inside The Venetian. Hotels are worth looking around in. Crazy.

Fremont Street

Bellagio was doing "Billy Jean"

All in all, a good trip. Great curling. Ticked everything Vegas off my list. I don't ever need to or want to go back - but I hope I'll get to see the Continental Cup again once of these years!

(For the record, I prefer working/volunteering. Fortunately, the day we set out for the airport on the way to Vegas there was a big event announcement leak, and an hour later I might've agreed to be a director on the local organizing committee...)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Book Review: Modern Romance

I'm a card carrying member of The Spinster Club. People on occasion ask me why I'm single, and the response I usually give is "You want the list?!". One of the things on that list is that I hate dating, and I am currently particularly disillusioned with online dating - but how else are you going to meet that someonewhoisacceptingofyourweirdness?

A member of my book club recently reviewed Aziz Ansari's new book, Modern Romance, and it sounded like maybe Ansari had some of the answers...

Modern Romance
Aziz Ansari
277 pages

Apparently Aziz Ansari is a comedian (yeah ok so I'm not up on my pop culture). When a comedian writes a book on romance, usually it's not super stuffy or depressing, right? Well that's certainly true of this book. He goes through some current trends/thoughts/ideas (in a vaguely social-sciencey way that isn't over your head) about love/romance/dating, and the past/present state of each, including a lot of discussion on how technology is affecting the quest to find a partner. There's pie charts! And graphs! There's personal stories! It's funny! And not overly depressing!

I do think singles, or those looking for a partner will get the most out of this book. He does give some interesting truths about the current state of dating including:

  • Our idea of "the right person" has changed from agreeable companion to super perfect solemate.
  • Dating today is more complicated and stressful than in the past.
  • Technology has made dating more challenging, but also easier to find potential partners.
  • It's easy to forget people online are real people with real feelings.
  • Online dating has made it easier to choose people superficially.
  • Online dating isn't dating: it's more like an introduction service. 
  • Now we often get lazy and just go for a drink instead of actually try going out on a "date".
  • ...etc

Nothing earth shattering. You know all of this if you've spent any time in the dating world lately. I knew all of this. Most of this is why I quit dating. So when I read this book, I was nodding in agreement, not writing down things that would help me not be so foreveralone. (Although, probably if I'd done more than skim I would've written down the tips he gives which would've made me better at dating and maybe I wouldn't die alone? But I didn't have a pen handy. Oh well.)

It was funny. And worth a quick read. I'd recommend it to the other singletons out there.

At least it will make you feel like it's not just you.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Book Review: A Song of Ice and Fire

I finally did it. I finally finished the Game of Thrones books. And it only took me two years...

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
By George R.R. Martin
>5000 pages

In 2014, I watched the first two season's of the HBO show Game of Thrones. I'd been avoiding it until then, blathering on about how I didn't like the violence. Then I watched it and got completely addicted to the violence, I mean storyline. It was compelling, to say the least. So I decided to stop watching the show and read the books, the rewatch the entire show. Two years later...

That wasn't two years of solid reading. I'd pick up a book, read like the mad king, then put it down again for months and months. Start, pause, go, stop, repeat. But this Christmas vacation, I finally finished not only the books, but also the show (up to book 5 and season 5 obviously). It was a violent Christmas.

So what did I think? The books were fantastic - very compelling, addicting, super action packed. I often couldn't put them down. I really liked how the chapters changed viewpoint as it kept me reading to find out what had happened to so and so (although I'll admit to flipping ahead to see who died...). The short chapters made it easy to keep reading. I couldn't avoid spoilers from the show obviously but whatever, there were other characters to follow that I didn't really care who died at the Red Wedding. I found that I didn't care about most characters, but really loved a few, and was very interested in what happened to everyone in Westeros in general. I like epics - falling in love with a world and characters and staying there for awhile, so I really enjoyed this series. Magic, but not too much, action, violence, minimal romance. It was a win win.

Except for two things.

First, I had a hard time getting through book 5. It's not that it was bad: it was still a good story, but it was...slow. So not bad, and not necessarily boring (though yes sometimes), just slow. It took forever for stuff to happen. There was too much talking, too much thinking, too much of the desert. But I prevailed and finished it. And now I'll wait with the rest of the fanatics for book 6. Sigh. So close yet so far.

Second, I had a hard time with how different the show became. Season 4 was a bit different than the books and it was a bit annoying, but season 5, whoa boy - so different from the books. There were different characters doing the same thing, and the same characters doing different things. And as I said, it's not like it was bad. The show in itself is very good, and the books are very good, but they have become very different. And that's ok, unless you're like me and live by routine haha. I think it will be good to finish the show before finishing the books, as will probably happen. As he said himself in his post, they are different - people live and die differently, people are omitted etc, so I'll have to get over it.

Regardless, now I'll wait for the next season, the next book, just like everyone else.

For the record, the books are much better. You should read them...

Sunday, December 06, 2015

2015 Canada Cup - The End

[Catch up on The Beginning and The Middle...]

Last Day

The end. Always bittersweet.

Busy day with two finals, and then final tear down. This event is a bit different, with the knowledge that we're all coming back in February for the Scotties, so the good byes weren't as sad as usual. The volunteers and local media have been great, so it'll be nice to see the same people again in a couple months. I think I've also sussed out the cheap & cheerful eats near the arena too, score!

And as always, I cherish the time I spend as a fly on the wall as the veteran curling media guys swap stories and reminisce about curling events and personalities from the past. It really is a privilege to work with them event after event. They're always really good to me, welcoming me and making me feel comfortable in the media room. Besides my curling boss (who is my favourite boss because he says thank you and is always a pleasure to work with), I tend to get along well with the various guys who write for the event newspaper; I usually sit next to them on the media bench and we chatter in the scrum area. This event's writer was great as usual so I hope to meet up with him again down the road.

I'm not a pro at media/videography stuff. I know what I know because I've learned a few things, but I don't know everything (like how to stop the horrible glare and shadows coming off the lights. Need covers next event). I do this for fun on my vacation. So to continue to be asked to work for Curling Canada at these events is a real honour, and an opportunity I hope I can continue relishing for more curling seasons!

So I'll say good bye to the curling world and Grande Prairie, but only briefly as I'll be back in February!

Happened upon the set up for a Santa Claus parade on my walk to the arena. I particularly liked the dozen bobcats decked out as all different Santa's reindeer!

Women's final. Best seat in the house.

Homan wins!

This young piper was the best of the week!

Men's final.

This is what you miss during commercial breaks. Live it live!

Koe wins! I sure do love this gig!

Tear down begins as soon as the camera turns off, even as the teams celebrate their victories.

The end. See you down the road!

Saturday, December 05, 2015

2015 Canada Cup - The Middle

Day 3


For a bit on the media bench, I got to sit next to one of the Winter Youth Olympians - Team Canada is visiting and learning and practicing this week. Very cool. I'm obviously jealous those kids are going to Norway.

I also managed to find a dinosaur sponsor pin! No time to visit the new Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum this trip, maybe in February?

I went for a lovely short walk through the park that goes through Grande Prairie. It was such a beautiful December day!

The non-highlight of the night was when my computer crashed in the middle of editing a scrum and I lost it all and had to start again. Then that froze and I found the old one. And there's timing for these videos - I have to post them and pass on the link to my boss who is posting the article and needs the video embed link and this all needs to be done as quickly as possible after a draw. Fortunately I still squeaked in under the wire!

My favourite uniform #1: Team John Epping - My Favourite Purple. Love it!

My favourite uniform #2: Team Pat Simmons, as modelled by John Morris - Crazy Camo.

My favourite uniform #3: Team Sherry Middaugh - Classic Red.

Walk in the park.

Dino pin!

Enter to win Team Jones bobbleheads from WFG!

Quite the line up.

The TSN booth/media bench.

Winter Youth Olympics Team Canada practicing after the last draw.

Day 4

Besides curling, I walked to the Farmer's Market, which was closed because there was a Christmas craft sale on somewhere else but no one bothered to update that on the internet. Anyway, I stayed for homemade tacos at the concession and they were delicious. I'll be back for tacos in February.

It's the second last day which is kinda sad because I'm liking the people here. The Scotties should be fun!

Last round robin - men's draw and women's tiebreaker.

Team Purple Jacket lives to curl another day.

Clocks packed away for another day.

Men's semi. Best view in the house is mine!

Welcoming the Winter Youth Olympics Team Canada.

Having a laugh at the kiss cam!

This is what you miss during commercial breaks.

Extra end to end the evening!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

2015 Canada Cup - The Beginning

Day 1

It's like riding a bike. Sort of.

First I got stranded at the hotel because there's no shuttles out front. Thankfully an old friend saved me and called dispatch - oh how I've missed my curling friends! Dispatch number is now in my phone. Then there was no accreditation for me, so again my friend saved me and got me access. It's a nice venue, small but just perfect for what I'd want from a curling rink (minus the awesome food truck that parked outside at the Kamloops Brier, or the Safeway a dozen steps away at the Moose Jaw events, that was pretty exceptional). I helped set up the media scrum area, all the while pretending I totally knew what I was doing. Then it was watch a bit, film a bit, edit a bit, post. Repeat. I mostly got it right. Record is the big red button. Press record.

Easy peasy day back on the bike. It's good to be back.

Ah. This view again.

Under the media bench. Wicked good storage at this venue.

Taking photos for a calendar giveaway.

Normally I go by Shamchuk, or Slamchuk if it's roller derby. This is a new one though...

Day 2

Epic search for a toothbrush. Watch curling. Press record. Make some new friends. Done and dusted!

Marcel Rocque and Randy Ferbey, just hanging out.

The calm before the storm.