Thursday, April 3, 2014

My Drug of Choice

I've been thinking about getting another metal-spider-head-scratcher.

You know the ones. They're shaped like a daddy longlegs and made of some sort of copper.

Ever since a stranger sneaked up behind me at the mall and massaged my scalp with one, I was hooked. He was a salesman from one of those 'bizarre useless gadget of the year' kiosks. I should have been creeped out, but the power of the metal spider meant all was forgiven. Whatever or whoever was massaging my headthat could wait. In the meantime, I stood as still as possible and prayed it would never end.

I finally got one to call my own back in 2012 and enjoyed a few fantastic weeks with it. But that wasn't enough. Like an addict always searching for a more intense 'high', I needed it to be better, sharper, SCRATCHIER.

One morning, laughing like a maniac, I ripped the tiny plastic ends off each 'arm' of the bronze contraption. All that was left was raw, sharp metal.

My scalp was practically salivating. Time to try it out!

I pressed the altered scratcher onto my noggin and let 'er rip across my youthful scalp. OH THE PAIN. Chunks of skin, tufts of hair and blood everywhere (don't worry, I'm exaggerating)!

But now enough time has passed that I think I can be trusted with a metal-spider-head-scratcher once again.

Bear with me while I walk to the Camera Obscura gift shop to purchase one...

--- --- ---

BACK!




Reunited and it feels so good. 






Cheers,
Margaret



P.S. This new one that I got is silver. But the first one I encountered was brown/bronze/copper-ish. I don't want you to think I don't know the difference between silver coloured things and copper coloured things.

Freak

My boyfriend has a giant brain. It’s thick like a truck tyre. His hippocampus is as big as a hippo’s. His medulla oblongata is more oblong than most. 

Everyday people pay to meet with him. They want to experience his bulky, bulbous brain for themselves. His head’s on the large side, they think, but the real evidence emerges when he speaks. His words are swift and confident. Too eloquent to be improvised, but too specific to be scripted. Where do they come from? It can only be from that colossal cranium. That muscular data sponge. That humongous monster brain, brimming with facts and ideas.

They test him with questions. Flinging from topic to topic, they try to lose him. But he hangs on.

What does a crab eat? Why is Dubai like it is? Who invented the bicycle?

The freak can’t be stumped.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Life

On the hunt for a decent blog topic, I decided to look though my old 'drafts' folder. It contains all the half-written posts my first-world lethargic arse never got around to finish writing. In one of these unfinished posts, I had the nerve to offer life advice! Oh the irony.

Found this gem in my iPhoto library. Have you ever seen anyone so carefree? Please take note of the waterproof footwear.


It looks like '10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Life' was just a bit too ambitious the first time around. I only managed to come up with four. Here they are:

1. Drink all beverages out of a wine glass. Add ice when applicable.

2. Buy nice hand soap that smells incredible.

3. Add butter and a stock cube to couscous when you cook it.

4. Throw stuff away! Don't be a hoarder.

Now, months later, I've mustered up the remaining six.

5. Turn email alert sounds off on your phone/tablet. You check your email often enough anyway. Alert sounds create a false sense of urgency.

6. Keep spools of dental floss everywhere - in your car, desk drawer, bedside table, purse, couch cushion, etc. You never know when you might need it.

7. Buy waterproof footwear (my Mom's #1 piece of advice).

8. Have two types of deodorants on the go at the same time. Switch between them daily. This will stop your pits from getting immune (not science, just a hunch of mine).

9. Read! Force yourself to open a book and read a few pages before bed (even if it's a dystopian sci-fi aimed at teenagers, or the work of your favourite Real Housewife).

10. Do something creative every now and then. Make a homemade greeting card, Mod Podge a piece of IKEA furniture, do a photo scrapbook on Snapfish, decorate a cake, shave a cat. OK, maybe not the last one.

There you have it. You've just been life coached. You may as well call me Gwyneth!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to read Brandi Glanville's memoir.

Cheers,
Margaret

Saturday, January 25, 2014

5 lessons my Grandpa taught me

My Grandpa died last week at the age of 94. It simply won't be the same without him. Helping to fill the void, however, are the many life lessons he passed on to me and everyone he met. Here are just five of my favourites:

1) Have a signature dance move
  

There are a number of reasons why it’s a good idea to have a specific dance move you can call your own. Firstly, it helps eliminate any dance floor anxiety. You already know what you’re going to do - you’re prepared. Secondly, it reduces the chance of you unknowingly falling into step with the folks around you. There’s nothing worse than dancing in a group and then realizing you’re copying the moves of the person next to you. That’s exactly the opposite of being cool. A third reason is that you might - if you’re lucky - have that dance move named after you.

My Grandpa’s soft-shoe shuffle is known amongst the cousins as ‘the Grandpa dance’. I don’t plan to ever call it anything else. It will be passed down through the generations as ‘the Grandpa dance’ - and what a fun legacy to leave behind.

2) Eat a healthy breakfast



The concept of breakfast has been lost on my generation. Sipping a latte and scarfing a banana on the way to work - we should be ashamed. Something I admired about my Grandpa (and my Grandma too) was his commitment to breakfast. Real breakfast. Eggs and toast, or sometimes oatmeal. Pair that with some OJ, a coffee and the newspaper of your choice, and you can’t get a better start to the day.

Living to the age of 94 was most likely due to a combination of good genes and an incredible attitude, but if I had to pinpoint a specific secret to his long, happy life, I would say it was breakfast.

3) Be able to recite something from memory


Memorize something. Anything! Just pick some interesting words and commit them to memory - a poem, a historic speech, a passage from a book, a scene from a movie - it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a good idea to have a lovely kernel of spoken word entertainment for those nights when the power goes out, or if you find yourself around a campfire.

When the moment called for it, my Grandpa had a particularly brilliant poem at the ready. It was about a man name Archibald, and it was funny. His delivery was spot-on too. It can be difficult to transform a crowd of gabbing Paddens into a captive audience, but he never struggled to hold our attention. Ironically, I can’t remember anything else about the poem - just that it was about a guy named Archibald, and it was funny.

These are the things you wish you could ask him about just one more time. What was that poem? When did he memorize it? Why did he memorize it?

4) Talk to cashiers and waiters


And don’t back off when they seem: 1) embarrassed, 2) annoyed, 3) non-English-speaking 4) preoccupied 5) goth.

Anywhere we went - Safeway, Starbucks, a fancy Maui restaurant - he never failed to strike up a conversation (or at least attempt it) with the awkward teenager working there.

This isn’t just a heartwarming characteristic of a bygone era. As a former Ultimate Bagel employee, I know that senior citizens are just as capable of ignoring the girl behind the cash register as anyone else. This was a quality specific to him.

I never accompanied him across a toll bridge, but I have no doubt he would have attempted a conversation with the tollbooth attendant. No matter how many cars lined up behind him. Let them honk!

5) Work hard, enjoy yourself and be happy


Perhaps the best and most obvious trait of my Grandpa was happiness. He was genuinely happy. When my friends met him for the first time, this was always what they mentioned to me afterward.

And there was something very special about his happiness - something that made it feel stronger and more real than the more superficial joys we’re accustomed to in daily life. I think this is because it went hand-in-hand with pride and gratitude.

I took it for granted that he never complained. But now I realize just how rare a trait this is. Sure, he could rant about politics, baseball or bogus university degrees (mine - in journalism - was one of them). He had his principles and stuck to them. But he didn’t whine. He didn’t moan about the weather, or being tired or having to work in the morning. When I made him a GardenBurger - his first ever - all he said as he washed it down with a beer was 'It's interesting.'

He worked hard and built the life he wanted. He was grateful for his life, so he didn’t waste a second of it.

When he looked around the Thanksgiving table at his children, son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, grandchildren and great grandchildren, he beamed with pride. He, together with my Grandma, have created a wonderful, loving family. If that’s not a reason to be happy, than what is?

It’s sad that he’s no longer with us. I’ll miss him a lot. But it seems only fitting that my overwhelming emotion be gratitude. I am incredibly grateful to have known my Grandpa, and to have known him for so long.  

Thank you, Grandpa, for teaching me so much.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cricket 1, Round Brush 0

There's something weird about the human brain that allows you to forget the impracticability of a round brush approximately every six years. You spend the majority of your life knowing that blow-drying your hair and using a round brush simultaneously is pretty much impossible. But then, out of nowhere, you'll convince yourself that it just might work.

It never does.

Why? Because our arms are attached to our shoulders and we only have two of them. Curling the back of your hair under with a round brush is physically impossible. I feel like I've accepted this for the final time - yet six years from now, the frustration of my most recent round brush attempt will be a distant memory. I'm sure I'll get sucked into the round brush propaganda once again.

In the meantime, maybe I should just invest in a Topsy Tail


Let's move on. Edinburgh got its first snowfall yesterday. Just a handful of miniscule flakes, but snow nonetheless! It was beautiful. Weather gods of Scotland, if you're reading this, we want MORE!!!!

As it gets colder outside, it just gets cosier and cosier in our flat. I have the Yankee Candles firing on all cylinders, every finished cup of tea gets immediately replaced with another, and we fall asleep listening to the calm, wise voices of old British men doing cricket commentary on the radio.

Yankee Candles. I'm obsessed. It's me at my most 'middle-aged suburban mom'.

Yep, cricket. The sport, nae the animal. Just like watching 'Home Alone', eating tree-shaped cookies and listening to a certain Mariah Carey song (you know the one), cricket is part of the Christmas tradition over here.

'The Ashes', a biennial tournament between England and Australia, is on for most of December. Since they're playing Down Under, the live commentary doesn't start until about 11:30pm our time. It's been lulling us to sleep the past few nights.

The thing about cricket is, it's a truly fantastic game. I completely understand the skepticism - it's not the easiest of pastimes to get into late in life, but I would urge everyone to give it a go. The sport evokes the same feelings you get watching baseball on a warm, relaxing summer afternoon. Yet, compared to baseball, the tension takes much more time to build and the payoff is potentially much greater.

In a game of cricket, there are always two stories happening at once. There's the immediate action (what's happen on the pitch right now), but also the story of the bigger picture (what's the broader meaning of what's happening on the pitch - what does it all add up to). It's only as the game goes on that the latter gets clearer.

However, I'll admit that it wasn't too long ago that I thought cricket went something like this:



 That's all for now - have a groovy weekend!

Love,
Margaret

P.S. Don't forget to fire this bad boy up at your next holiday party! 'Tis the season for DJ Polite.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Vintage Margaret & Andy's Glasgow Birthday Surprise

Lately I've had the craving to write something meaningful. Unfortunately, I am struggling for topics. What's become of my former self? Where did that passionate, spirited gal who could fiercely defend the merits of celery or argue that presents are the best part of Christmas go?

It's a bit of a shame how we tend to be more reasonable and less reactive when we get older. When I was 11, I locked four of my friends in my bedroom and argued with them about the evils of abortion for hours. I distinctly remember not letting the conversation drop until they had all agreed that, yes, I was right and admitted that 'pro-life' was the correct thing to be. HA! HAAAAAA!

While I've since drastically shifted my stance on that hot-button issue, I do admire the tenacity I displayed back then. Would I have the audacity to harangue my friends on such a 'sensitive' subject today? Probably not. And actually, that's a good thing. People who spout political, religious or moral beliefs over dinner/drinks with friends are horrendous. Post-graduate life is filled with people like that. It's dreadful.



So, I suppose my goal should be to channel the chutzpa of 11-year-old Mog, but hold close the wisdom I've gained in the 16 years since. I should stick to what I do best - analyzing the Real Housewives and podcasting about Amanda Bynes. But the moment something of significance pops into my brain, I shall take to my Macbook and blog, blog, BLOGGGG! I'm just waiting for that meaningful topic to arrive.

In the meantime, here's a tale I'll call 'Andy's Birthday':

We went to Glasgow! It was a surprise! I told him we were just going to breakfast! Then we got on a train! I told him we were only going for the day! But we stayed the night! The hotel, CitizenM, was cool!

Our room at CitizenM Glasgow. Great view!

Andy + Beer + Surfing 'the net' + Glasgow = Happy Birthday

Very hard to do a double-selfie with a digital SLR. First world problems, HAHAHAHHAHAHA. sigh.

We visited the Kelvingrove Museum and the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow University. The University building is very Hogwarts-esque. It's surrounded by leafy trees and made me feel very happy. Unfortunately for y'all, we left the camera at the hotel and were forced to just enjoy the moment rather than document our visit photographically.

On the off chance that I don't write another post before the 31st - Happy Halloween everyone! I don't know what I am going to be yet. Any suggestions?

Love,
Margaret

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