Sunnier days in Spain – both literally and metaphorically, because damn I miss gin right now
Please note that this post is not in any way sponsored by anyone (as if someone would sponsor it with a title like that) though I mention some specific brands or companies I use and include a few affiliate links!
January 1st, 2018
I wake up with… almost no hangover. All right. This is already a vast improvement than last year’s January 1st when I thought my head would explode. Do you want to know how hungover I was last year? Please observe my step count from last year:
That’s right. TEN. My phone registered TEN STEPS FOR THE DAY. And did I die on January 2nd?! I’m surprised my muscles didn’t atrophy. To be fair, if I didn’t leave my flat that day (more than likely) I probably just walked with my phone from the bedroom to the living room, and since I didn’t walk with my phone in hand again… that was that. Still… that’s not good for any able-bodied human.
Some of you may remember that last year I attempted to do a month without my two favourite things in life: alcohol and men. If you read that series, which many of you did, you’d remember that *spoiler* I ended up feeling really, really, REALLY great at the end of it, even after I cheated on both counts. And honestly? Feeling so great was quite possibly the worst thing that could have happened; I mean, I was sort of hoping that I would realise that my lifestyle was totally healthy and normal, and that I was operating at peak performance already. Well, no. I clearly wasn’t if I went on to feel so healthy and happy after giving up my two biggest vices.
After kind of a shitty year in terms of my health, both mental and physical, I decided the best plan of action was to try it again. I already did try again, for about three days this summer, but I was still in such a funk after finishing up the trip of a lifetime that it didn’t stick, and I went on annihilating pizzas and pastas and bottles of wine like I was about to go into hibernation.
This year, though, I’m vowing to make a bunch of changes to my lifestyle to shake things up and to ensure that I’ll feel a lot better about things, most notably my writing. When I feel good physically, I am much more productive (I wrote nine blog posts last January, the most I’ve done in years).
Gone are the days when I’d get a glass of wine before writing a blog post
But because everyone loves a challenge (I fucking hate challenges) I decided to up the ante this time around. Instead of just giving up alcohol and men, I decided to tack on most refined carbs and processed foods like bread and pasta, because I am a sick masochist who needs help. Like most people in their mid-30s who work from home, don’t understand how a single serving of pasta could satisfy any grown adult, would happily bathe in red wine, and do no exercise whatsoever (I’m not alone, am I?) I’m tired of the extra weight around my middle, tired of feeling out of breath after a few flights of stairs, and tired of being tired. I want to be strong and healthy, both in body and mind. As much as I love wine, whisky, tequila, gin, dark rum, vodka, Campari, Aperol, beer… OK, all alcohol except sambuca, I know that it’s good to give it a break once in a while. Same goes for pasta, AKA what I’d eat for every meal if I could, and men, AKA what I’d eat for every meal… no, that doesn’t have the same ring to it.
So 2018, let’s freaking do this. I spend the day starting to write a new blog post and catching up on emails, and then walk to my dad’s house where we eat salads with chicken and watch Kingsman 2, which was not nearly as good as the first one with the caveat that it has one of my dreamboats in it, Pedro Pascal.
And just because I’m going to be slightly lenient on myself this time around, I decide that I’m allowed certain cheats; events like my sister’s birthday or travelling should allow me to be a bit more flexible. Also, I totally get a free pass if by some miracle in heaven I meet one of my dreamboats in person. There are many, and they are split into two categories: the husband category and the holy-balls-you-are-so-hot category. Many of them overlap, but in general:
The husband category: Dwayne Johnson, Paul Rudd, Trevor Noah, Mark Ruffalo, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Chris Evans, James Marsden, John Cho, Dev Patel, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele
The aaaakajslkdfjaeulhlsdjfjsdkf category: GARRETT HEDLUND, Pedro Pascal, Matthias Schoenaerts, Idris Elba, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jesse Williams, Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund
So just an FYI… because clearly I have a chance with any of the above men. Especially when they read posts like this. Duh.
I spend the rest of the evening binge-watching the latest season of Black Mirror and wow, the final episode is amazing and oh man, Hang the DJ made me weep. All in all a fairly productive first day of the year, I suppose? I mean, I walked 6,000 steps, which already is a 600 times improvement from last year, so I’m OK with that.
Memmmmm’ries, light the corners of my mind. Misty whisky-coloured memmmmm’ries…
January 2nd, 2018
Today I go grocery shopping and buy, I kid you not, what looks like a garbage bag of spinach. It weighs 2kg or something ridiculous so obviously, when I steam it, I will have exactly one and a half spoonfuls of spinach. I get so excited buying fruits and vegetables that I fail to look at the prices of anything, and the price tag is quite a shock. That’s the thing about eating healthy, and why so many people don’t/can’t do it: it’s really goddamn expensive to buy fresh produce, especially organic. Because I’m in Canada at the moment, and not able to pop to the local grocery store every other day like I could in London (which was a mere minute’s walk away from my flat), I load up and hope for the best.
In the afternoon I head to the gym, because I recently signed up for a year’s membership. What I’m hoping this doesn’t mean is that I am paying $400 a year to go to the gym five times in January and then possibly never again. Some months will be a complete write-off, as I’ll be travelling for a solid five or six months this year, but I’m determined to be active and strengthen my core (did this “core” exist ten years ago? I feel like everyone says things like “tone the glutes” and “strengthen the core” and I’m always like yep, yep, nodding along, silently wondering if I even know what the core is) so that I don’t have as many problems with my back this year.
At home I make what turns out to be a cauldron of spinach smoothies in my new Vitamix (Santa was especially kind this year) and add things like hemp hearts, protein powder, and goji berries, so I both a) feel like a supergoddess b) realise each smoothie is costing like six bucks and c) wonder if I did it right, because my smoothie is suspiciously chewy.
Wine with my mum in Rwanda
January 3rd, 2018
Today, in keeping with my new healthy fresh clean lifestyle, I go to Vita Health and buy some fish oil capsules and some spirulina. It kind of grosses me out to think about swallowing fish oil and seaweed, but I’m up for anything this month. Well, except alcohol. And white carbs. And men.
Of the three vices I’m giving up in January, I’m least concerned about men. As I’ll be splitting my time across Winnipeg, Vancouver, Whistler, Kelowna, and Banff, the only option would be to have a brief fling or travel romance. And it’s not like I love having travel romances or anything, especially with beefy Australian ski instructors on cold Canadian mountaintops where there is MOST DEFINITELY a fireplace and a bearskin rug involved.
Wait a minute. Wait just a doggoned MINUTE.
WHAT HAVE I DONE?!
I also post this roundup of 2017, which explains some of the MEH-ness (it’s a word) I was feeling last year, and why I’m so keen to have a clean slate this year. Clean as in detox. Detox as in fingers-crossed-I-feel-good-again-because-Christ-on-a-cracker-I-miss-bread. And crackers.
Can’t look at this photo of pasta in Florence, Italy, without sighing
January 4th, 2018
Today I head to the gym again… wearing the same clothes as last time. Is that gross? Probably, but I have exactly one gym outfit (I told you I never work out) and I’m hoping nobody comes close enough to me to notice. But because 30 minutes on the elliptical has convinced me I could potentially try out for the Olympics in 2020, I head to Winners where I find tons of cute, affordable sports bras with way too many straps (I guess it’s the style to make it look like you have a spiderweb on your back?). I realise when I go to the gym I’ll now be wearing a mix of Nike, Puma, and Adidas and I understand that, as a future Olympian, I better find my perfect partnership and stay loyal (I’m thinking “dad’s old t-shirt” isn’t a very good brand campaign).
After working online and eating another pound of spinach, I head to The Forks for a media night at the city’s new Ice Castles. I’ve been talking to both Visit Winnipeg and Visit Manitoba so that when I’m here in Winnipeg, which I plan on being a lot more often – when you spend the last two years feeling super lonely and then realise that most of the people you love most in the world are in one city, you re-evaluate your choices – I can do lots of cool, fun stuff.
And that’s the thing: Winnipeg is FULL of cool, fun stuff to do. I left almost 15 years ago, so OF COURSE the city has changed a bunch, and I’m relishing in just how hip and happening Winnipeg is right now (contrary to popular belief, I am not a teenager frozen in 1962, I just really like those words). There are new bars and restaurants and museums and shops and to top it off, everyone I’m meeting is so utterly in love with Winnipeg, and it’s infectious. It’s one of Canada’s best kept secrets, if you ask me, because Winnipeg can have such an iffy reputation, especially with other Canadians; ask someone from Toronto what they think of Winnipeg and they’ll probably say the words “cold” and “boring”. Well, I can tell you that one of those things definitely ain’t true, and considering it is an eye-watering -35 with the windchill today, you can guess which one I mean.
So, all bundled up – including my dad’s snowpants… which, to my horror, FIT ME – I head to the Ice Castles with one of my very best friends in the world, Rikki. Rikki and I have been best friends since we were five years old, and to have her here in Winnipeg is just the greatest thing. She also makes nearly all of the jewellery I wear on a daily basis… so those of you who have asked about my earrings in my Instagram stories, make sure to check out her Etsy shop!
And despite it being unbelievably cold, the Ice Castles are really fun and photogenic. We get hot chocolates and donuts – yes, I cheated, but I figured the cold rendered all calories obsolete – and walk around in caverns of ice and snow. We go down an ice slide, warm ourselves by the fire, and talk about just how proud we are of living in this city full of such friendly, fun, and hearty-as-hell people. There’s even an Elsa character. In -35. Give that woman a raise, goddamn it.
While walking around the Ice Castles, I make eyes at a cute guy who’s one of the workers there. I mean, I think he’s cute, but considering he’s wearing a toque and a scarf covering half of his face, I could be wrong. I’m going solely by height, size of construction boots, snow-flecked eyelashes, and is-that-frostbite-or-are-those-pheromones, but then I remember… oh shit.
I totally matched with a guy on Bumble who said he was in town to build the Ice Castles. Could it be him?! And now he sees me in the flesh… while I’m pretty sure I have frozen snot on my upper lip??
OK, so I need to back up. In December, when I landed in Winnipeg after visiting Japan, I decided, hey, why not, let’s see what the single guys in Winnipeg are like. Despite meeting guys from all over the world, in the past twelve years I haven’t dated any Canadians. I haven’t even KISSED a Canadian in twelve years… FINE, except this one guy years ago on a drunken night in Toronto who only owned one book in his entire apartment: a paleo cookbook. I know. Yuck. Don’t judge me.
Anyway, despite dating men from England, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Wales (I do love the Commonwealth, apparently), USA, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Denmark, Slovenia, France… um, I’m actually going to stop now, because this is making me feel a bit too “global” if you know what I’m saying… I haven’t gone on a date with one Canadian. Not one. So I dusted off my Bumble account and went bumbling… literally, because I feel like I’ve lost my online dating mojo.
Bumble, in my personal opinion, is actually far worse than Tinder. In case you don’t know the difference, on Tinder, anyone can write to anyone after matching, while on Bumble, only the woman can write first, and she has to do so within 24 hours. If she doesn’t write, the match is deleted. If the man doesn’t respond within 24 hours, the match is deleted. And while this is apparently supposed to empower women, I have found it is completely the opposite; it has totally crushed my ego, time and time again.
Do you know how insanely frustrating it is to write to twenty men only to have NONE of them write you back? Like… why match if you don’t want to talk? I know this happens on Tinder all the time, too, but I just don’t get it. All I can think is that these dudes swipe right on just about anyone, sit back, wait for the messages to come flooding in, and then choose who they want to respond to (please note that I write first on Tinder sometimes, so I don’t think it’s totally fair to compare them – on Bumble the woman HAS to write or else the match is deleted, while no such limitations are placed on Tinder. I imagine many men go through what I’m going through on Bumble, though).
I had nearly given up on Bumble all together because of this – seriously, the only one who wrote me back in London in a week was a guy who told me he was masturbating to my photos… funnily enough, that didn’t make me delete my account, but seeing my ex pop up as a potential match certainly did – but I decided to give it a shot in Canada, because why not? I’d be up for grabbing a drink with someone. Bumble seems to be the dating app of choice these days, with Tinder rendered almost obsolete, so off I went a’bumblin’.
Well, let me tell you… Bumble in Winnipeg is just as much of a bust as it is in London. I’m sure we all have a friend who met the person of their dreams on Bumble, but, to me, it’s just another dating app where people don’t write back. And, for the sake of true transparency, I’d like to show you what my profile looks like just so you’re not like, “Um, maybe your profile makes you look like the kind of person who kicks puppies and steals from charity boxes.” Here. Here are my photos. They’re a bit outdated but I’m too lazy to find a new semi-flattering photo.
And here is my bio: I love new books, old cars, red wine, and window seats. Definitely a dog person. Looking to drink some whisky and have a laugh.
So here in Winnipeg I matched with a couple of guys, but after a few of them didn’t write back (and then the ones who did NEVER ASKED ME ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT MYSELF so I just deleted them because seriously, how do you answer five questions and never once say, “What about you?” at the end of any of them?) I gave up, yet again. Getting a drink with a dude isn’t that high on my list of priorities at this point, so I thought I’d spare myself the time as well as the eye muscle pulls, because for real, I rolled my eyes so hard at one dude’s bio once I legitimately pulled a muscle in my eye.
Anyhoodle, Ice Castles were really fun.
Donut judge me for anything I say in this post
January 5th, 2018
Today, after working in the morning, I met up with my sister for brunch at Stella’s, a popular chain here. I ordered something healthy-ish (anything with chorizo probably isn’t THAT healthy) but asked them to hold the toast. I also ordered, for the first and last time in my life, an almond milk cappuccino.
Speaking of coffee, I just got an Aeropress and Lord have mercy, I swear it has changed my life. As someone who absolutely loves coffee – the good stuff, so espressos and really dark roasts and anything made in Italy – I have wanted an espresso machine for years but obviously could never afford it. This thing? It costs like $30 and gives me pretty fantastic espressos in less than a minute. I. am. in. love. I usually use a French press every morning but I have now switched over to the Aeropress because I feel I can more accurately control the portions, and I can choose to have an espresso instead of a cup of coffee. I honestly don’t think I can ever drink coffee from a regular drip coffee machine again… does that make me a snob? Don’t answer that.
My sister Zalie and I have a fantastic day together – she’s another reason I want to spend much more time in Winnipeg going forward. We head to the mall (I need winter boots for the trip to Western Canada I’m taking at the end of the month) and then head to her house for more gossip. There’s nothing like having a sibling nearby; I’ve missed that in the past 15 years.
White wine siblings
January 6th, 2018
Because I work from home and make my own hours, weekends don’t really mean very much to me – they’re just like regular days except places close earlier and are way busier. I have a ton of work to catch up on but, to break that up, I head to Canadian Superstore to pick up a bunch more vegetables and a few extra things, including a spiralizer. Do you know how fun it is to spiralize a zucchini? And do you know how many times you have to convince yourself it’s just as good as pasta when you eat it? Forty-seven. For the record, it’s forty-seven.
There wasn’t much that was significant about this day except that I discovered I still have a bunch of sweets leftover from Christmas and my stomach actually dropped. Oh yeah, I also haven’t had any refined sugar in my diet save the teaspoon of sugar I put in my coffee every morning, because I’m really going for this healthy lifestyle thing. I briefly hold two Ferrero Rochers in my hand before putting them back, slam the cupboard shut, and grab an apple.
FYI, this action is so commendable in my eyes that I actually text my sister about it.
Aperol Spritzes with my sister and her boyfriend in Siena, Italy
January 7th, 2018
Today is a fairly lazy day, although I feel, for a single woman with no children living on her own, I have an unusual amount of errands all the time. I honestly don’t understand how EVERY SINGLE DAY I have something to do or buy or mail, just to maintain being a human being. Some days, when I’m feeling especially productive, I’m like, “Look at me all adulting and stuff, mailing cheques and paying insurance bills and buying toilet paper,” and, on the 99% of the other days, I’m like, “What in the HELL? Stamps cost how much?! I don’t want to spend my money on insurance… I just won’t crash my car, how about that! And goddamn it, I swear I just bought toilet paper!! Who’s pooping at my house so much?!?” Sometimes I miss being a kid and having my parents do a lot of this for me, like make sure I eat healthy food and book doctor’s appointments. Now I just avoid going to the doctor all together and hope I don’t die.
Tonight the Golden Globes are on, and wouldn’t you know it, I’m SO EXCITED. I used to love watching the Oscars and the Globes when I was a kid, but as I’ve lived overseas for the past decade or so, the time difference means that they’re always on in the middle of the night. This Golden Globes in particular is special in the wake of #metoo, and I’m really enjoying all of the passionate and eloquent speeches from the women on stage and on the red carpet (though it would have been nice to see a few men make mention of it in their speeches, AHEM). My favourite moments of the night were:
- Oprah, obviously. How inspiring was that speech? And hey, if one reality TV star can become president, why not her?
- Any shot of Zoe Kravitz, Issa Rae, or Saoirse Ronan, because they all looked radiant (and I want Zoe’s earrings and tattoos so bad).
- When Garrett Hedlund walked on stage and I nearly fainted. Does he have a Southern accent?! I thought he was from Minnesota. Either way, I’ll take it every which way till Sunday.
- Anything that Frances McDormand said or did. Who else wishes they were drinking tequila with her?
- NATALIE PORTMAN. I am not that big of a fan of her – I enjoy her in movies but she’s not a favourite – but fuckkkkkkkkkk was I impressed with her for having the guts to make that comment, especially after the director snubs toward Greta Gerwig, Patty Jenkins, and Dee Rees.
My dad joined me at my house to watch the show, and he picked up some takeaway dinner; I opted for salmon, brussels sprouts, and sparkling water, while he gets pasta followed by a few glasses of my best Scotch. Something is not right here. Here is where I let everyone know what I got for Christmas, which is: a bar cart, two bottles of bourbon, a book on feminist cocktails, and a pasta maker. Yes, my family knows me very, very well. But do you understand now? Do you understand just how masochistic I truly am?! I can’t even enjoy my Christmas gifts.
Last year, when I’d try things like bacon-infused Bloody Marys in London
So I made it. I made it one week without a drop of alcohol, a bite of bread or pasta (again, that donut does not count), or a flirty interaction with a man who will most likely ghost me. As I wrote about last year, I enjoy giving up these vices because I honestly feel so much healthier and happier when I’m eating clean and not having to worry about whether or not someone is going to text me back. Since I’ve already done it once in my life, I know I have the willpower to keep going and to see just how great I can feel and how productive I can become, and that’s a pretty empowering feeling.
While I don’t necessarily notice any weight shed after only one week, I certainly FEEL a lot healthier, which is the most important part. I have much more energy and, most significantly, not once do I feel bad about my work or this blog or where my life is headed. I feel confident and excited and motivated. Is that because I ate a garbage bag of spinach? Who’s to say. All I know is, I want this feeling to continue.
And then, quite stupidly, lying in bed on a Sunday night… I open up Bumble for one last glance.
You know that scene in A Clockwork Orange when they keep his eyes open to force him to watch certain images? I feel like that right now. Stop looking at me, pizza!!
Can I continue to feel this annoyingly chipper for another week? What if I match with someone really fantastic on Bumble? Will I ever become any less self-absorbed [hint: nope]? Stay tuned for next week’s entry! Please note I was lazy uploading photos which is why this post is a couple days late… it should be uploaded on Tuesdays from now on. Update: Read Part Two here!
And if you’d like to read last year’s attempt at a month without alcohol and men… start here!