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Moran Abroad

Came to Canada for camp. 25 months on; still here.

Fluffy white sun-dappled clouds

“Follow your dreams” say the inspirational jpegs, with their handwritten typography scrawled over fluffy white sun-dappled clouds, or a beach scene with a vintage filter. Those other jpegs, with their multi-coloured balloons and wispy butterflies, say “never let go!” and “you can do anything!” in their looping, curling font. 

I pin them to my Pinterest board, entitled “Pretty Things”, and internally nod along at the sentiment, a little warm glow in my little warm heart. 

A few years ago I was having dinner with a very good friend, at a very expensive restaurant, paid for by a Groupon voucher. “We’ll never be able to afford this,” she conceded early on in our feast, thinking of the lives that lay ahead of us. “The career paths we’ve chosen will never make us so much money we can comfortably eat dinner at Michelin-starred restaurants” (with not one, but two desserts, I might add). 

She was right, of course. We’d both decided to be writers. We’d both abided by the outlook of those fuzzy jpegs and said yes to pursuing our dreams! Believing in ourselves! Doing what we loved! etc. etc. 

I had accepted my fate of never being financially rich with contented good nature. Realistically I was never going to make millions being a writer. Money had never been a motivating factor; I’d have my modest house and my books and my prevailing sense of adventure to keep me swathed in cheerfulness and fulfillment. 

I’m sad to tell it; this noble intention has waned. Those fluffy white sun-dappled clouds have parted to reveal a world of expensive pleasures, in need of supporting funds. Trips to Central America, the entirety of Topshop’s sale rail, oysters twice a week, Tassimo coffee discs, flights to England and pounds to spend there. I like expensive cheese, I lust after expensive handbags, I drink $14 cocktails that disappear with two sips.

Carrie Bradshaw is a myth. Those clothes, those shoes, that apartment, and that job? I have a choice to make; pursuing the dream, or pursuing the lifestyle. 

I guess, as it so often does, a prospective answer comes from a slice of wisdom served up by Jim Carrey. You’ve probably seen the clip; during his commencement address at Maharishi University in Iowa, Jim (who I have adored since 1994) trumps all the jpegs and all the flowery prose and tells the story of his father, who became an accountant instead of pursuing his dream of being a comedian, but then was fired from being an accountant anyway.  

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love,” he says to a captivated audience.

I think he might be right.

Wedding whoas

This evening I sat down with a thick slice of cake (raspberry loaf - impeccable), paused my American Dad marathon on Netflix, and finally began to browse the two wedding books my recently wed boss has kindly lent for my perusal.

I got engaged in December (at the Four Seasons in Paris, darling) and until this month I’ve done nothing more than whip up a frenzy of pins on Pinterest. Completely incongruous pins, mind you, ranging from an embellished peacock clutch to a mugshot style photoshoot taken with the bridesmaids (both may actually happen.)

Page one, or thereabouts, of the first book informed me straight off that I was running late. Venues and colour schemes and similar should have been picked 12 months prior to the dream date. Our aim is for March 2015; this is the only concrete decision I’ve managed to coax from my fiancé whose adversity to planning knows no bounds. “Do you even want to marry me?” is a phrase that’s been bandied around this month, I will not lie.

Weddings are a bit stressful. My mind fluctuates wildly from over-analysing every precise detail to not giving a single solitary shit what colour the napkins end up. In weddings as in life, I suppose. Today I was looking at chairs. It never occurs to one that not only do you have to hire chairs, at some extortionate rate, but there’s things hanging from the chairs you have to get too. Bits of leafs and ribbon-y stuff. It’s all too overwhelming.

I was going to go full-on traditional and wear my mum’s dress. The reasoning behind this was a combination of custom and convenience. I hate clothes shopping. At Kind Exchange in the Beaches last weekend I nearly burst into tears because I’d tried on four dresses and I looked like a knob in every single one. No hyperbole; I’ve gone out with the express purpose of clothes shopping no more than one and a half times in the past two years. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be with mum’s dress and I, so the dress hunt beginning now in earnest should be drawing to a conclusion in around 10 months time, God willing.

A debate arose as to where to have the wedding. Not as in which venue (that’s a whole other kettle of fish) but which country. British girl marries Canadian boy and where the heck do they do it?

Seeing as we met in Canada, and we live in Canada, it makes a lot of sense for us to tie the knot in Canada. Visiting venues is simplified without the 3500 mile distance. Nonetheless, I’d love to have a party in London, too, I thought to myself. It seems a bit much to ask the fam-a-lam to cruise across the ocean for North American nuptials. So now I’m planning two weddings, it seems; a wedding, and a post-wedding sorry-you-missed-it-but-this-is-a-bit-like-it-anyway. Because one wasn’t enough, I craved more.

Last week I went fully militant on planning venue viewings (this surge of organisation happens sometimes - I’m currently inspired by Chris Hadfield’s book “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” and he’s a bit of a planner). So I booked in about half a dozen venues for my affianced and I to assess. One problem; my Gmail calendar - unused for many months - is still on Greenwich mean time. Receiving appointments 5 hours earlier than they should be, my betrothed is confused. “Why are you booking these viewings during the day?” says he."What are you talking about?” I bark back, “do you even want to marry me?”

The planning continues.

Why having a dog is so damn great

As a new dog owner, I have to tell you, having a dog is the greatest. It is the greatest. Let me tell you all the best things about having a dog:

  • The happy abandon of material goods; ‘I used to love those shoes,’ you think to yourself, ‘but oh how this sweet, sweet canine has brightened my life, it matters not that the shoes are no more as she’s chewed them to pieces.’ Greek philosopher Democritus said “happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul”. So chew away, my furry friend, chew away.image
  • The chance to see the little known visage of Toronto at 4am, or 5:30am (stone cold sober, mind you), or whenever the dog decides she needs to lick your face and trample on your previously peacefully sleeping body until you arise from the comfortable bed with gusto (or fury).

  • Having a sparklingly clean floor for 90% of the time (the other 10% of the time there being the presence of poop or pee, prompting a far more rigorous and frequent cleaning regime than ever before).image
  • Never having an awkward silence in the elevator again; that once uncomfortable peace is now replaced with repeatedly saying “sorry” as your dog jumps on every single unsuspecting stranger who has the misfortune of entering the elevator with you. “We haven’t quite learned ‘don’t jump’ yet,” you can say, to uproarious laughter.

  • The chance to make new friends with the people you have to fervently apologise to as your dogs muddied paws connect with their torso when she jumps up for an enthusiastic greeting. Isn’t the sort of friend you want to have the sort of person who’s so chilled that a muddy work shirt ain’t no thing but a chicken wing?
  • Entering an entire new culture of the “dog owner” and falling succinctly into one of its subsets; the “big dog owner” who faces a similar struggle as your two dogs zealously pull towards one another, and the “small dog owner” who’s look of terror as your wolf-dog hurtles towards their tiny ball of yelping fur apace is palpable.image

  • The opportunity to take out the garbage more often, as your bundle of joy cannot be left alone with a full garbage bin, lest she chow down on a two-day old burger and countless fuzzy kiwi skins.
  • Your organisational skills are boosted. You know you cannot leave the house without putting your garbage bin and recycle bin in the bathroom so your darling dog can’t feast on its contents in your absence.image
  • Exercise, exercise in abundance. If you thought taking the dog for a walk would be the extent of your exercise, you were mistaken. Lifting the ridiculously heavy bag of food back to the top of the bedroom cupboard because your beloved companion has figured out how to open the drawer it used to be in, and will eat 3 days’ worth of food is just the start. Chasing your dog around the dog park because every time a new dog arrives she tries to bolt out the gate becomes routine. Pushing your dog’s butt off your pillow at any time of the day or night is no big deal. Dogs!image

  • Alongside the exercise you can bet you’re no longer lazy, if you ever were. Snuggly cuddles with your dog will be interrupted consistently by her sneezing in your face (just me?). Watching the TV turns into watching the TV with the clattering sound of a food bowl being repeatedly dropped, or a sloppily saliva-coated ball being dropped into your lap. Think you need 8 hours sleep? Well you don’t! You need 4 hours, then you need a walk, then you need another 2, and then you need to have a dog sit on your sternum.image
  • If you’re squeamish, you’ll likely lose that pretty sharpish. You actually have to use your own hand, protected only by a wafer thin poop bag, to pick up dog poops. Your dog might even be an impish trickster, and pretend she’s finished so you pick it all up – yuck yuck yuck – only to find she’s done it again a mere 3 feet away. “You little rascal!” you might laugh at her, “what japes we have!”

Harrow On The Hill, London, HA0

This photo reminds me of Saturday mornings going to the shopping centre with mum. We’d always pass this road; the school outfitters looks like something from Harry Potter. Harrow schoolboys have to wear boating hats, and sometimes cloaks, which was always entertaining to me. “Look at them!” I’d gasp as they milled around Harrow-on-the-Hill. My dad said when he was younger a Harrow schoolboy spat on his car, so my dad got out and chased him down the street. I have a very vivid motion picture of this scenario in my head. Such a rudeboy.


Harrow On The Hill, London, HA0

This photo reminds me of Saturday mornings going to the shopping centre with mum. We’d always pass this road; the school outfitters looks like something from Harry Potter. Harrow schoolboys have to wear boating hats, and sometimes cloaks, which was always entertaining to me. “Look at them!” I’d gasp as they milled around Harrow-on-the-Hill. My dad said when he was younger a Harrow schoolboy spat on his car, so my dad got out and chased him down the street. I have a very vivid motion picture of this scenario in my head. Such a rudeboy.

(via lheartlondon)

Paracetamol and Cheeky Monkeys

When you spend a lot of time with someone over the course of nearly two years (especially when it’s to the point they think they could probably put up with you for the foreseeable, and ask you to marry them) your conversations tend to cover a fair spectrum of the English language. Nonetheless, nearly 20 months since I bid cheery oh! to England and set up camp this side of the Atlantic, my Canadian beau and I still have vocabular misunderstandings in abundance.

Searching for his allergy pills this morning, Michael picked up a packet of paracetamol and inquired as to whether they were my malaria pills. I looked at him for a moment, wondering whether this was a joke. He’d already been exasperated at himself when, making a shopping list for the drugstore, he’d called kitchen roll kitchen roll and toilet roll toilet roll (as opposed to the Canadian equivalents paper towel and toilet tissue – “why do I say everything British now?” he’d lamented). The paracetamol were from a bag of painkiller goodies my British friend left when she went back to England, and my quizzical look at his inquiry was lost on him.

In a similar way, I recently noticed, he has given me strange glances when I call the new dog, Cosette, a cheeky monkey. “You cheeky monkey!” I exclaim as she places herself in the most inconvenient location she could possibly be in at any one time.

Paracetamol and cheeky monkey inspired me to list the very best sounding words that you Canadians are missing out on using. They are spectacular. Here they are all in a row: poorly, stroppy, mardy, wally, brolly, manky, lurgy.

Poorly: when you are ill. “I’m ever so poorly,” you might say. I feel it garners more sympathy than simply being ill or being sick. When my dad’s poorly, he not just poorly, he is weak as a kitten.

Stroppy: when you sulk because you don’t get your own way. You can also be “in a strop”. I spent the years 2001-2007 in a strop.

Mardy: as far as I’m aware, this is the Northerner version of stroppy. The Artic Monkeys had that song “Mardy Bum”.

Wally: when you’re being silly. My dad calls me a wally, an eejit which is the Irish slang version thereof, or an omadhaun, which is proper Irish but along the same lines. He also says “daft ha’p’orth” which is a full-on Northerner way of saying the same thing. It occurs to me now my dad has an abundance of ways of saying I’m being stupid.

Brolly: umbrella, for when it inevitably rains in England.

Manky: when something’s disgusting or gross, it’s manky. Mankey is also a Pokemon.

Lurgy: the UK equivalent of cooties. When I was a kid, we all knew to clench a fist, place your thumb in the middle of your forehead and say “plugs forever” and then you’d be immune from the lurgy for life. OR SO WE THOUGHT. Sometimes people would try to tag you with the lurgy anyway. Madness.


Got a dog.

Cannot stop taking photos of everything she does.

Goodbye Cable

The last time a Rogers man visited my apartment I had a full-on meltdown. I’m pretty sure I wrote a blogpost about it, but I can’t find it to reference, so I’ll just say what happened was that the internet I ordered wasn’t wireless. Imagine my utter distress.

Anyway, this time, when a Rogers man turned up unannounced and I had to haul ass out of bed - where I was wallowing in most unjustified misery, as one does at 7pm on a weeknight - I took his visit with gentle acquiescence.

He had come to take away all the boxes that do the things, because our first Rogers bill in this apartment was over $600. Upon receiving this astronomical bill (“At least Dick Turpin wore a mask”, my dad would say) I called Rogers and told them to take it all away. I envisage this phonecall as having had a similar level of unbridled fury as when the Queen of Hearts yells OFF WITH HER HEAD in Alice in Wonderland, and advise you do the same.

We still have internet, because we’re not animals, but cable is gone and so is the landline. Who even has a landline? The Rogers man circulated the apartment gathering items much as a woodland enthusiast would gather mushrooms. I presume. Goodbye all the little black boxes, I hardly knew ye.

I’ve decided, this time, being nearly exactly one year older and wiser than the last time, I shan’t have a meltdown. There’s no cause to have a meltdown, really; cable and a landline are superfluous in the modern age in which we live. Also, I’d asked for them to be spirited away, I hadn’t made a simpleminded faux pas like last time.

Truly, I’d rather not have been disturbed from my gloom and made to interact with another human being whilst wearing pyjamas and odd socks, but perhaps it was for the best. Blog fodder, you might say. Look at me, writing a thing instead of just shrouding myself in despair.

Thank you, Rogers man.

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