Babysteps.

In almost every single chick flick there is a scene where one character will offer their guest a drink, “Wine? Red? White? Beer?”. For some reason these particular scenes have primed my mind to think that a real person has more than one type of beverage on hand to offer guests.

On Friday, as I was unloading the latest deskdrop into my fridge I was faced with a very daunting image. A bottle of summery Moscato was chilling in the right corner and a variety of what is arguably a local micro brew in the form of Mill St was sandwiched by the ever classic Buds. There was even a box of Budweiser NA (newly launch Prohibition Brew) sitting on my kitchen counter waiting to be unloaded. Not only did I have a variety of alcoholic beverages in my fridge, I even had a non-alcoholic adult beverage to offer guests. What am I now? A scripted character? A real person?

Taking a step backwards, the packed upper shelves brought a more familiar tone. These shelves housed food that was not mine. The spinach, smoked paprika tofu, and salads all belonged to my roommate. Even my shelf held food that was not mine; a bag of oranges “borrowed” from my parents’ house and a half-eaten cupcake lifted from the office (from the night where misplaced keys prompted 2 cupcakes to act as dinner).

For some reason now that I am a year removed from being a student I feel societal expectation where I can either be a struggling (relatively) new grad or a starred employed adulting individual. What ever happened to taking baby-steps?

Currently I am a resident of the student-y Annex, I go home on weekends (sometimes with my laundry), and I still shape my off-hours around workouts (like I did as a student). But on the flipside, I am capable of rolling into the office on time for 9AM meetings and adult-y things like rent, packing lunches that contain quality vegetables and protein, and making sure the shoes make it to the shoe rack. The snap of my fridge adequately summarizes my current situation in life; not yet a real person but on track to being one.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Detached homes in Toronto can’t be purchased as a starter home. I went home over the weekend and before I showed my mom my latest shoe purchase I crawled into her lap, she looked over at me and said, “Baby steps.”

 

***Disclosing that I am an employee of Labatt Breweries of Canada. I was not paid to write this post. All words and thoughts are my own.

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And They Say Running Isn’t A Team Sport

“Nice job Danielle!”

My name is not Danielle but for 40 minutes and change today I ran as a member of the W45 age group. I’m happy to share that I’m pretty sure I was able to run Danielle a PB.

Over the last year I’ve been questioning my ability to ever PB again.  When that happens you start questioning why you even bothering training anymore. I’ve been telling myself that I still run because it is often still fun. But on the start line this morning all I could think was how Grade 12 Joanna would beat current-day-working-girl Joanna.

Despite my hobby-jogger status I managed to run about a minute faster than Skinny-Grade-12-Joanna today.

If you had told me this last week I would have told you were crazy. It wasn’t until Monday, while talking to a friend about her training for the SL10K that I realized I wanted to run. Talk about unrealistic goals since I didn’t even have a bib. And the blackmarket for the SL10K bibs was apparently more bullish than anything I own on the TSX.

I’ve never met Danielle but through a mutual friend she gifted me her bib. But she didn’t just give me a piece of paper with a few numbers on it, she also gave back to me one of the reasons to why I run.  Even if I didn’t run a great time, it feels good to know that I can beat Skinny-Grade-12-Joanna.

Of course this wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the girlfriend that helped me by-pass the race marshals (without the need to hop the fence) to get into the red corral. They say running isn’t a team sport but I’m telling you it took a team to even get me to the startline.

Finally, huge thanks to my Masters training group who have helped me realize it is possible to balance work and training. Thanks for all the laughs and fun at prac that have kept me in the game. Just don’t ask me to run a half marathon PB anytime soon.

Yours till the Friday office beers + too strong martinis, 1:30AM pre-race bedtimes, and peanut m&m breakfasts.

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The Vegan Lasagna for Those That Don’t Like Cheese

“Do you know what’s wrong with you? You don’t like cheese. How can you not like cheese?”

I get this question from my work neighbour every single time I bring out my cheese-less lasagna. He is also not shy in telling me that the lasagna would hold together a lot better if I had only used cheese. I must admit he is right. But this lasagna with roasted eggplant, garlicky spinach, and meaty Portobello is so delicious I wouldn’t trade it for the beautifully photographed cheesy lasagnas of the Internets.

This veggie-packed, cheese-less, meatless, and essentially vegan lasagna is actually super simple to make. The best part is it’s also freezer-friendly!

Cast of Characters

  • 1 small eggplant, roasted with olive oil & salt (I used a medium-sized Chinese eggplant)
  • 2 large Portobello mushrooms, roasted with olive oil & salt
  • 3 cups, spinach, sautéed with 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 package, extra firm tofu
  • 2 TBS, pesto (or to taste)
  • 1 jar, tomato sauce (I used White Linen Mariana)
  • 1 package, lasagna noodles (I used oven ready)

Assembly

  1. Crumble the tofu into your Magic Bullet or food processor and pulse until paste-like or with a consistency similar to a drier ricotta. Puree the roasted eggplant. In a large bowl, combine the processed tofu, pureed eggplant, and pesto.
  2. Cover the bottom of a large baking pan with tomato sauce before placing a layer of lasagna noodles (I like to briefly rinse the noodles before using them) on top. Spread 1/3 of the tofu mixture on top before topping with a layer of sautéed spinach and roasted Portobello. Repeat until noodles are used up (I usually have 4 layers of noodles, 3 layers of veggie goodies) – make sure to cover top layer with a layer of sauce.
  3. Cover with foil and bake at 400C until noodles are soft – approximately 30-35 minutes.

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**I forgot to take a photo, photo courtesy of my mom

***Sauce, noodles, spinach, Portobello, noodles, sauce &etc.

For the record, I do like some cheese– namely in the form of cream cheese frosting

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Same Content, Evolving Channels

Earlier in the month I attended a Q&A with Facebook CMO Gary Briggs. In the hour he shared gourmet donuts and touched upon the evolution of products now offered by the social media parent. As he spoke briefly about Whatsapp, Oculus Rift, Facebook Free Internet in India, and Carousel Ads my mind got drawn back to the Facebook of 2007.

When I first joined Facebook in 2007 the then Homepage was a jumble of updates of everything and nothing. I am cringing as I think of how the old homepage was filled with statuses about what one was doing at the moment in time, conversations via wall-to-walls, large photo albums filled with poor quality images, videos of fun-at-the-time moments, and Notes with quizzical lists. In a way it is astonishing at how new platforms and social media behaviours have arisen in the last 9 years. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and FB Messenger and other messaging apps are now all channels where we share the moments that were once displayed on the Facebook homepage.

In a way, for a time period, Facebook status updates were replaced by Tweets. But today, Twitter is a platform with more media consumers than content providers. Over time this platform has evolved from being the site of 140 character micro-blogging to being a source for news, real-time events and conversations.

The mass of photos that were once uploaded to Facebook now often live on other platforms. We’ve learnt to curate our photos for Instagram. Even within Instagram I’ve noticed shifts in user trend – diminished are the days of mass food shots, selfies, and multiple event photos. IG has become the place for inspirational shots that display our lives in all the glamour and perfection that can be mustered.

The fun silly shots of the every day that once used to live on Facebook (or even IG) now belong to Snapchat. The disappearing photos and videos have become a platform for us to express ourselves more freely and in-tune with the moment. The power behind this platform is that with the disappearing shots we feel at ease to share more than just the perfect moments, additionally, with Snapchat we are more inclined to share more than just one moment from an event. Once upon a time I would have shared two or more photos from one night on IG but today we are intent on sharing the perfect moment from the night on IG, turning to Snaps for the rest of the night.

That is not to say Facebook no longer plays a role in sharing the photo content. Looking at my Newsfeed, the best of the best that is posted on IG and Snapchat often gets rerouted back to FB for the mass reach. There is obviously a battle between the social platforms in getting us to chose to share our content on a particular one (ie. Facebook has launched live video, Twitter is parent to Periscope, combatting Snapchat in a sense) but I find different platforms do play off each other. How many times have you Snapped someone a picture of something on your FB Newsfeed? I did this earlier today.

What I find the most amazing about all of this is that there are no explicit rules written anywhere that state we should use a particular platform for a particular piece of content. Instead, we’ve all been able to pick up on the fellow user trends to create and post content that fits the channels. I am quite sure no memo was ever sent in regards to how one should Snapchat yet we all somehow know Snaps are meant to be vertical.

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Pass the Ha Gow, It’s Chinese New Year

At Thanksgiving my mother and I pulled out our mah jong table, a table that is likely older than I am, when we learnt that my mother’s youngest sister and my younger cousins didn’t know how to play. I was in shocked into silence.

The revelation that the younger family members didn’t know how to play this traditional game was overwhelming. My parents taught me to play mah jong when I was very young. This game of luck and pattern recognition is as familiar to me as ordering ha gow when we go dim sum. In my mind, like dim sum, mah jong is a cornerstone of the Cantonese culture.

Last week I surprisingly found myself in the position where I was the one demanding for the traditional Chinese New Year dinner. While my extended family had mentioned getting dinner together, no one, none of the adults, actively tried to make plans for this holiday that even other cultures are aware of. I had a Chinese New Year lunch with colleagues in my calendar, the special edition CNY 8-pack on my desk, but no concrete plans for dim sum, pekking duck, or mah jong with family.

I am not okay with this.

We live in an awesome country that is supportive of multiculturalism so why is it that we’re not embracing our culture more?

This instance has opened up my eyes to how we as individuals need to make more of an effort to actively embrace and share our culture with those that share it and even those that don’t – if we don’t, there is opportunity for it to dilute and even disappear.

Ps.

I’m sorry but while I understand it is a busy time of year for those of us with work, exams, and other extracurriculars but as long as you’re part of my family we’re going to make time for ha gow, mah jong, and the traditional wishes that come with the red pockets.

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***Chinese New Year and SB50 ready!

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The Path of Uncertainty: The Unexpected Opportunities

Last week something that I wrote went live.

If you live in Ontario and you are between the ages of 19 and 24, it is quite possible that the copy  (and its variations) has been or will be served to you. It will be one of the many uncredited pieces you are served every day on social media but HEY MOM LOOK WHAT I DID AT WORK .

The pieces might only be short form content (and only circulated on social media) – with many under 117 characters. But there is still a sense of satisfaction when I see the sponsored post on my newsfeed or the ad on the sidebar.

Last year I touched briefly upon my childhood desire to be a writer and how the undefined destination was buried deeply. It’s hard to believe that a mere year later I would have the opportunity do some content versioning, to throw together a few words, where the reach will be beyond my own personal network.

It’s kind of funny how one ends up in the places they do.

Earlier in the week I came across a Facebook post by a first year student, the student was expressing their struggles with a certain mandatory course and their uncertainty as to whether the commerce program was right for them. I remember feeling the exact doubt and sentiments when I was in first year.

In this post I want to share that it’s okay to be on a path of uncertainty. It may not be the most fun road to travel on but over time you will learn and grow. I am not afraid to share that when I started my commerce degree 5 years ago I was an extremely confused individual without a clear objective for post-graduation. Along the way I’ve stumbled and made countless mistakes. But it’s okay as long as you seize the opportunities that life does hand out.

Sometimes the opportunities aren’t what you expected or lack a certain aspect you were hoping to obtain but that’s okay. In today’s digital age we’re prone to wanting and expecting our queries to be delivered in instantaneous time but Rome wasn’t built in one day.

My post-graduation path has been anything but of the expected traditional trajectory. I’ve had 3 roles in 8 months, I’m making a lot less money than a lot of my friends, and I’ve accomplished one of my worst nightmares of moving back home to my parents’ in the suburbs but I’ve also accomplished my childhood dream of being a writer, albeit with a new writing form.

I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 months but for the moment I’m okay.

 

 

 

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What is the Value of a Human Life?

Today, on what was to be my first 60 minute run in over a month, I got hit by a car that neglected to slow down enough upon approach at a crossroad. Instead of coming to a full stop at the red octagon the driver decided to continue with a rolling right turn. He also decided not to employ his eyes. It was the first time in my 22 years that I thought I was actually going to die.

I had almost crossed the street when I felt the car clip my heel. And heard the car continuing to drive. The driver didn’t stop until I had launched into the longest thrill of more profanity that I have uttered in a very long time. When he finally stopped the vehicle he remained dismissive – not bothering to roll down a window until I pounded on it. Even then he only rolled down the window of his driver side to yell at me, “Are you stupid?!?!?”. A few seconds later, he drove off.

I have never cut a run short due to traffic incidents. I have also never filed a police report. Tonight, I did both of those things.

The lack of remorse shown by the driver was scary. Coming to a full stop at a stop sign, or even just slowing down a bit more, would have only cost the driver a maximum of 5 seconds but he neglected to do so. The lack of remorse he showed showcases that he thought that extra 5 seconds was worth more than my life.

So what is a human life worth? Apparently less than 5 seconds.

And in terms of monetary value? The minimum wage in Ontario is $11.25, the value of that 5 seconds is just under 2 cents. Apparently my life was valued by the driver to be less 2 cents. 

My parents have a different view. My father told me that next time I should just wait the extra 10+ seconds for that car that is half a street back to complete it’s trajectory, because my life is worth more than 10 seconds.

With a glass of wine, the ingredients for a squash beef stew, and a half-finished weekly report in front of me I’m just wondering why is it that human life is measured terms such as time and monetary costs.  I mean, my mom thinks I’m priceless.

Now I don’t know if the culprit of today’s events was under the influences, but with the holiday season approaching, I would like to urge all my driver friends out there to drive carefully and please don’t drink and drive – please drink responsibly.

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