Sunday, September 28, 2014

Always Something

Well, this is unusual.  Normally I can't tell you the details of what's going on in my work life because everything is super-top-secret.  This time I can't talk because one major problem has gone totally public, therefore stating what's going on could identify my workplace and compromise my anonymity.  I just can't win, can I?

Suffice it to say that something happened; the news media picked it up; and therefore everyone at my work totally freaked out.  Fortunately, I happened to have taken this past week off as vacation before the news hit.  Unfortunately, I ended up having to do some work from home.  Fortunately, this helped to address the problem without my having to be in the currently horribly tense atmosphere of the office.  Unfortunately, I am heading back to work on Monday.  Fortunately, I still have a job.  Unfortunately, some people are saying that this problem may put us all out of work in short order.  Fortunately, I believe that the negative attention will blow over pretty soon and we'll all be fine.  Memories are short, right?

Often I find that the worst part of many small-to-medium sized problems is the collective emotional reactions of the people around me.  I often have to do as much or more work dealing with peoples' moods as I do solving the actual problem.  It seems like people feel a moral imperative to ensure that everyone around them feels as bad as they do.  If you're not worried, they'll blast you with their fears until you start to show signs of anxiety.  I guess misery loves company?  

The options available to someone who doesn't want to be swayed into the worry camp are limited.  Ignoring the worriers often results in them redoubling their inflammatory efforts.  They need you to agree with them so that if they can't feel secure, they can at least feel right.    Often it comes down to a choice between ignoring them to the point of rudeness OR telling them to zip it OR spending your own already taxed emotional resources reassuring them.  It's frustrating.

I may not have been at the office, but remember, I work for a family business.  I can only escape a certain amount of the madness by going on vacation.  The rest follows me around wherever I go.

Oh well.  At least I got enough quality me-time to get my head together about this particular problem.  I'm ready to go in tomorrow and deal with whatever comes my way.  We might go out of business?  Okay, that's not ideal, but I can get another job.  Other bad stuff might happen?  Sure.  Maybe there's a dormant volcano under the building and it's about to blow up.  Whatevs.  We'll burn that bridge when we get to it.  Want to try to freak me out?  Go ahead.  But be prepared for me to tell you to zip it.  If you don't have something supportive to say, don't say anything at all.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fancy Pantsy

I've been meaning to show you guys this cat burger for ages.  I found it on a newspaper box.

Anyway, today's story is about a trip downtown to meet my lawyer.  Yes, you hear me right.  My lawyer.  I have my very own fancy-pants lawyer as of this week.  It's enough to make you say:

In fact, these cups of breakfast cereal were on sale at Richtree Market in the Eaton Centre, where I killed some time after arriving downtown early.  Really?  This is your brand message?  It got a laugh out of me, but it seems kind of risky, in terms of its capacity to offend people.  What do you think?

Here is a feathery, expensive shoe by Oscar De La Renta.  (I walked through the shoe section of The Bay on my way out.)  I guess floof is in for fall.

The lawyer meeting went well, insofar as any meeting with a lawyer can go well.  If you're an average person meeting with a lawyer, it's usually because things have gone wrong.  However, this particular lawyer is either a brilliant sociopath who totally pulled the wool over my eyes, or a warm, sweet-natured guy who will be a pleasure to work with.  This was our introductory meeting.  He comes well-recommended.

Fun fact about the Scotia Plaza building where we met: it has double-decker elevators.  At one point the car I was in stopped for no apparent reason and the floor number display said "Serving Another Floor".  That means the other car was loading/unloading passengers.  Very cool.

I will call the meeting "successful" because my lawyer and my step-dad's lawyer went over every painful detail of the case, pushing on just about every bruise in my psyche, and I got through it without bursting into tears or having a panic attack.  Believe me, it wasn't easy.  I managed to keep my big girl socks pulled up for the whole 90 minutes.  If I could tell you the details, you'd understand.

After the meeting, I took myself out for lunch, and then to the Victoria College annual fund-raising book sale.  That was a nice way to unwind.  I love the interior decor in the Old Vic building.  It's got all of my favourite colours.

Monday, September 15, 2014


There is a saying in New Age circles that is best illustrated thusly:

(Artwork by me.  Please, hold your applause.)

I went outside my comfort zone because:
  • My sister is an actor; and I want to support her career and the avant-garde theatre group she works with.
  • My father (the biological one) invited me to see her play with him and it seemed like a good opportunity to spend some time together.
  • Speaking of "some time", this play is four hours long.  Yes, FOUR HOURS.  (Including two intermissions, so I suppose technically that makes it 3.5 hours long.  Still.  That's a lot of play for your dollar.  Who can resist value like that?)
  • I wanted to experience "the magic".
I'm not a theatre buff.  I prefer to experience cultural events at a remove, so that if it's too loud I can turn the volume down.  Or, in the case of a festival, I can leave when I feel I've had enough.  Being stuck in a small audience for several hours does feel a tad claustrophobic.  However, so long as I'm sitting on an aisle I'm fairly content.

Well, this play...  How can I describe it?  It's a well-known Shakespeare play, re-made to explore the most violent, horrible aspects of the plot.  The subtitle should be "Everyone dies".  Right from the get-go, there was an abundance of unrestrained shrieking, sobbing, and full-contact (thumping, crashing) fights.  This, in combination with random creepy images projected onto the mostly-white set, was unnerving.

For sure, it was a great play.  The staging was creative.  The acting was convincing.  The plot kept my interest.  There were moments of much-needed comic relief.  At one level, I truly enjoyed it.

At another level, (the sensitive flower level), I found it challenging.  Every scream, even the ones I could kind of see coming, made me jump in my seat.  The fights got my adrenaline pumping.  At a visceral level, I didn't feel safe.  I kept having to remind myself that it was just a play, and that everyone was fine.  I was fine.  My Dad was sitting right beside me.  That creepy, howling old lady was actually my sister. 

If the play had been half as long, I probably could have endured it.  Unfortunately, just before the second intermission there was a surprise self-harm scene complete with (fake) blood, and that was it for me.  I realized that I needed to get out and get some air or I was going to faint right off my chair.  Somewhere in between the onset of cold sweats and actual loss of consciousness, I managed to slip out as quietly as possible.  Thank heaven I was on the aisle.

I staggered through the lobby and out the front door, where it was blessedly cool.  I sat on the front stoop with my head between my knees for quite some time.  At one point I sensed a presence, and looked up right into the impassive eyes of a large dog.  The man on the other end of the leash wanted to get into the building.  He said "Oh, is it as bad as all that?" to me, but I was only able to weakly smile at him and put my head back down.  Then I felt the dog's body jostle against mine as they squeezed past me through the door.

Fortunately, second intermission came right at the time I felt well enough to stand.  Also fortunately, my father felt that he had had enough of the play (even with his hearing aids helping he was having trouble understanding some of the dialogue), so we left.  By then I was in such a mood of wanting to tough it out to the bitter end that I would have tried to stay, but that was a bad idea.  I wasn't thinking clearly.  It was for the best that we called it a night.

It's very frustrating to be sensitive.  I truly would have liked to stay to the end, if I could have controlled my lizard-brain's anxiety reflex.  The upper layers of my brain were fascinated by the political machinations and powerful imagery.  Darn it, lizard-brain.  Why won't you trust me?

Monday, September 8, 2014


Now that I am getting to be an older lady with wrinkly elbows, I'm starting to think about retiring.  As in: it might be nice to do it someday.  Preferably before I die.

I have always been more of a saver than a spender, so I have a few dollars tucked away in a savings account.  I finally came to the conclusion that I'd better do more with said dollars than let them slowly melt away under the hot glare of inflation.  I mean, yes, I do earn a paltry point or two of interest in this savings account, but it's not going to be sufficient for me to retire prior to death, which really is my strong preference.

Over the years, I've gone through bouts of enthusiasm during which I research the world of finance.  I have read books, websites, and been lectured at length by my step-dad.  However, just about the time I was feeling ready to put a toe in the financial waters, BOOM the 2008 crash happened.  LOL, nope!

I investigated the possibility of buying real estate.  I don't want to flip properties, so I was considering being a landlady.  Having heard some tenant-from-hell horror stories, I thought it would be best to do it through a management company.  Then, having further investigated and heard some management company horror stories, I gave up on the idea entirely.

In the end what convinced me to proceed with investing was learning that stocks, collectively, and historically, go up an average of 10% per year.  Therefore, unless something drastic changes, it makes sense to invest in a well-diversified mutual fund(s) and/or index fund(s) because in the long run they will beat the snot out of even the most generous "high-interest" savings account.  The thing is to just be brave, shove the money in there, and not even look at the numbers for 20+ years or so.  The daily ups and downs won't matter in the long run.

I am super-proud of myself for figuring out how to set up an online trading account through my bank (not a simple procedure) and starting to use it.  I had a lot of help from Investopedia.  For example, if you have to figure out what a currency-hedged ETF is, that's the place to start searching.

Not this kind of hedge:

Or this kind of hedge:

But this kind of hedge.

I completed my first transaction last week.  I'm still trying to figure out the well-designed but necessarily super-complicated website.  I'm keeping it as simple as I can, for now.  I'm pretty sure it's better than spending all my cash on lottery tickets, is all I can say for sure.