Friday, 31 July 2009

Critical Mass

Wow, this city gets more interesting by the minute!

I finally had a chance to end my week in style - the company of good friends, a beautiful evening avec sunshine (thanks, Mother Nature... no hard feelings, right?), a spacious patio, and margaritas in glasses that resembled fishbowls.

I was in heaven.

After a couple of hours and a few ounces, Kabs and I decided to head on down to Dundas Square to check out the Caribana eve happenings. We could tell that activities were abuzz, as people leisurely strolled around Toronto's downtown core... many with confused looks on their faces. They clearly weren't from this part of town.

As we crossed Bay Street, we came across a swarm of cyclists, headed south during rush-hour traffic. It seemed like a large group at first, but as they stopped and collected at a red light, we noticed the masses, capped off with a row of police officers on their bikes.

Curiosity getting the best of me, I asked one cyclist what was going on.

"Oh, it's Critical Mass!" she said, nonchalantly.

This one was going to be tricky.

"Not sure what that is," I replied. "Is it a biking group?"

"Nope. We gather at Spadina and Bloor on the last Friday of every month and cycle around the city," she said. "It's for anyone."

"Oh that sounds like fun!" I replied.

The lady gave me a half smile that I didn't think too much of at the time, and rode off as the light changed.

When I got home, I Googled.

And what do you know? Critical Mass is actually a form of protest, showcasing how unfriendly the city is when it comes to cyclists.

It does take place on the last Friday of every month, as she mentioned... but it happens in about 300 cities across the world.

It baffled me. I've lived in this city for half my life and have NEVER encountered Critical Mass before.

It excited me on one hand... but on another, it broke my heart.

Do I really not know Toronto as well as I'd like to?


Photo courtesy of TorontoCranks

Thursday, 30 July 2009

PDA, NOT of the affectionate kind!

I never wanted to use this blog for the purposes of which you will soon read about. I wanted to spare you, my readers, from rants and raves bordering on lunacy and hate. But after an experience I had today, I can't help but want to share and warn all of you (especially my fellow Torontonians).

Last August I bought my lovely mother a gift card to a spa in downtown Toronto. I chose that particular one based on reviews, referrals and finally, location. It was her birthday gift, and I wanted her to be able to access the spa at will.

So I chose the Pantages Spa on Victoria street, purchasing a couple of highly priced items for her to indulge in. She used one of the treats as soon as she could, opting to use the other at a later date.

Which brings us to about a week ago.

She mentioned wanting to use up the gift card before it expired next month, and asked that I book an appointment for her. I spent the next hour trying to call the spa, where, to my confusion, it kept going to voicemail. I thought nothing of it, left message on the 10th try, and went back to my daily routine.

Having not heard back from them in a couple of days, I decided to call the Pantages Hotel today to find out what was going on. The nice lady at the reception desk transferred me to the spa, where someone answered after three rings.

I told her about the fact that I'd been having trouble getting a hold of them, and asked to book an appointment for this Sunday.

The first question she asked me was if my gift card was from the wellness spa or the hotel spa.

I said I didn't know there was a difference.

She then asked when I'd purchased my gift card.

I said last August.

She then proceeded to outline the fact that they were a NEW spa, replacing the OLD Pantages Spa that was run independently in the hotel. The NEW spa was a part of the hotel, and did not honour the gift cards from the OLD spa.

Excuse me?

She went on to say that the old Pantages Spa would be opening at a new location -- in Vaughan, of all places -- but not until the end of September. My gift card would be well expired at this point.

"You've got to be kidding!" I thought.

I understand that the recession hit everyone hard, but the Pantages Spa didn't have the decency to CALL their customers with outstanding balances on their gift cards before shutting down? At least tell us what our options were? I asked for their number or contact, and she said the only one they had was the old number where I'd left a message.

How convenient. I'd love to know how many confused messages lay sitting in that voicemail, which I'm sure NO ONE will ever answer.

I'm so frustrated in all of this. I booked it down to the hotel after work to see what was going on, and to no surprise, the old spa has been replaced, now up and running with new smiling faces inciting people into their wellness centre.

Yea right.

So I asked the lady what my options are.

The voice on the other end of the line sweetly replied, "Honey, you're screwed."

Yea, screwed out of a good sum of money. You people know how costly these spa treatments are!


I'd give you all a link to their site, but the last thing I want to do is get them more attention, even in the manner of page hits.

I have a right to be mad.


Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Margarita trumps fork in the road

This summer has been chaotic, to say the least. I don't know how I've made it to the end of July without stopping in the middle of the street, looking up to the skies and yelling, "OK! I've had enough, you can stop torturing me now!"

Ok, maybe that would be slightly dramatic. But you get the idea.

My friend said it best today: "You're a goddamn yo-yo!"

I'm a yo-yo, yes I know.

So, in order to deal with this yo-yo-ness, I've had to implement emergency coping strategies to help me get through the rest of the week. I assure you, next week will result in a new list.

But for now:

1. A self-imposed margarita haze
It will knock off an hour or two of thinking time, while making things seem a bit more pleasant and less chaotic. (Note: temporary, yet delicious solution).

2. Start making phone calls
Talking kills time. Listening to the stories of others kills time. Calling friends and family and begging them to talk to me about their week will certainly have me focusing on something other than my stupid fork in the road. (Note: don't make phone calls or answer phone calls during margarita haze. Doing so might result in bigger problems than a stupid fork in the road).

3. Spend more time in the limited sunshine
Seriously, what's with this weather? In case you didn't get the memo, Mother Nature - it's summer! We spend at least six months of the year sans vitamin D, so this is a health issue. We need to stock up, so get on it. Sunshine will also lift spirits and make me want to burst into song. (Note: Hopefully not during margarita haze... or maybe...).

4. Shopping Therapy
Reasoning: will help stimulate economy. I'm doing this for the benefit of all North Americans. This isn't a selfish thing... I'm being thoughtful. Shop for all possible post-first week of August outcomes.

Repeat if necessary.



Note: This post may or may not have been written in a margarita haze.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Walk for Thought

The Summer issue of Zoomer magazine had an article by Cecily Ross, where she reflected on how she always ends up walking when dealing with a case of writer's block. She said that some of the clearest ideas and verbal images come to her as she briskly walks the landscape surrounding her house in the burbs.

I couldn't agree more. I wonder if it's a trait that a lot of writers share.

For my fellow Torontonians, imagine this:
I walked from Queen and River to the Eaton Centre yesterday. Then, after a dinner with V, we walked all the way to Dufferin and King.

My feet chastised me for it today, but yesterday it was exactly what I needed.

I had some of the clearest thoughts in days during that walk. Mum says it's something that might run in the family. It turns out my brother walked the Yonge/Bloor line last year during the usual Toronto Transit strike. And now that I think about it, he had a lot of thoughts at that time too.

In fact, with all the thinking going on, I never realized how much I was moving.

It all makes sense though. Think of the number of times people have advised you to go for a walk to clear your head when you're upset.

I read another article that says London, England is one of the best cities in the world for those of us who like to travel by foot. No wonder some of Jane Austens best dialogues between her characters happened as they walked the English countryside.

Classic and timeless!


Saturday, 25 July 2009

Depending on how the wind blows...

Decisions, decisions. So many decisions.
Don't you sometimes wish that someone else can decide what your next step in life is supposed to be?

Erm... maybe not. I think I'd grow tired of that very quickly.

I suppose decision-making is harder when you find yourself at a big fork in the road. This isn't apples vs oranges or jeans vs a skirt. The decision I'm faced with will map out the next year of my life. Maybe more.

Some people say it's easy to make a big shift during a recession. It's a chance to leave behind the old and move on to something new. The most daring take gambles at this time and try to create a dramatic shift... in thought, perspective and in actions.

I'm still trying to figure out if I'm one of those daring people.

In just over a week I'll have some news for all of you. Some big news, in fact. Sorry about the suspense, but I don't have anything concrete to tell just yet, and I want to be sure before I say anything.

But if this yo-yo of an experience has taught me anything, it's that I'm more patient than I ever imagined I was.

And that V is right: I do think a lot... so much in fact, that I make my head spin. Head spinning sucks at the best of times (think red wine highs).

I hope that within the next two weeks I'll find myself on a path that will allow me to commit more concretely to what I'm doing.

Think some Joel Olsten will help?


Photo courtesy of FriendsorEnemies

Friday, 24 July 2009

Fresh Friday

Today marks the end of a really long week. Aside from it being a busy time at work, it's been extended by the fact that I haven't been able to sleep longer than four hours for the past few nights. Not quite sure why this is the case. I'm thankful it's Friday.

I spent some time this morning scanning through images for a little weekend inspiration. It's supposed to be wet and muggy (weather-wise) until Monday, but I figured there's other ways to bring colour into our lives without depending so much on the summer sunshine. Here's what I came up with.

Book & Patio Love:One of my favourite things to do in rainy weather (more than in sunshine, surprisingly) is to grab a warm beverage and a good book, and park myself on a lounge chair on my balcony. The soothing sounds of the rain pitter-pattering on the concrete floor, while the natural sounds coming from the ravine next door do much to soothe my soul. Weekend rain in daylight gives me a chance to be quiet. And if I close my eyes and take a deep breath, I can momentarily transport myself away from the city lights and sounds to a quieter seaside... my place of comfort.

Fresh Cut Flowers:
Flowers are a cheap and easy way to bring some colour into your life. We're always giving other people flowers for occasions, but I think it's nice to treat yourself once in a while with your favourite blooms. You're special too and you deserve a treat! Tulips, carnations and seasonal flowers are plentiful and economical. Pick a few in your favourite shades and place them around your house. I guarantee your mood will be lifted as you walk by and catch the bursts of colour.

Music Therapy:
Find music that makes you the happiest and crank it up. Don't have a set playlist and aren't a fan of the FM mixes? Check out the radio section on your iTunes. You'll find a variety of lists from genres spanning the entire globe. I like to sail away to smooth Brazilian jazz and African rhythms. Chores around the house seem more fun when I'm bopping to Puerto Rican reggaeton! Yes, I'm a child of the globe and you can be too! It's a ton of fun.

So with that, I hope you all go on and enjoy your weekend, whether you stay in or venture out.


Wednesday, 22 July 2009

I like!

I stumbled across this on the WWW today, and couldn't help but smile!

Word Nerd!

If you could have a bunch of Scrabble letters as pillows, which ones would you choose and why? I know saying I want all of them is excessive, but can you imagine the messages you can embed into your decor? You can change it every time someone comes over!

Hmm... it wouldn't be so bad to have the pillow cases. Can you imagine saying "You're going to score tonight!" and meaning it literally?

I don't know how I feel about those benches though. They look pretty uncomfortable. I'd settle for the pillows for sure! I'm all about subliminal messages these days.

Read my mind.


Photo Credit: Geekologie

Design Diva

A thankful shout out to Sandi for designing the new banner for Straight From The Curls! She helped give this blog the unique feel it needed, while helping organize my thoughts. Be sure to head on over to For Design's Sake and see the world through her eyes!

Big hugs, Sandi!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Good Morning, Sunshine!

I had to wake up at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning.

On so many levels I was upset because I've spent the greater part of my life thinking weekends are designated for sleeping in.

But being awake before the sunshine and inhaling the freshest air that Toronto can muster during a mid-July (avec garbage strike) summer was a royal treat.

It made me wish I was a morning person.
Can people become morning... people? Or is it a genetic thing? I'm asking because I tried waking up early on Sunday and the closest I came was 9:45 a.m.

It's weird because I am more miserable waking up after I've slept in. I'll open my eyes and be sad that half the day is gone, and am actually more tired.

On Saturday I accomplished so much more work, simply because I realized I had so many more hours in the day to get things done.

Silly stuff, I know.

But enlightening for me!

Goal for this weekend: Wake up and enjoy fresh air and a cup of Jo before 9 a.m.


Sunday, 19 July 2009

Anticipation and Time

Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife, says she wrote the book as a metaphor designed to reflect all of her failed, past relationships. Plagued with frustration at not being able to find her soul mate in real life, she figured she might as well create him, by putting him into words.

The result? A perfect yet tragic story of love, patience, true romance, time and existence.

I loved this book and am actually looking forward to watching Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams play out the story on the big screen in August.


Saturday, 18 July 2009

Excuse the mess

Trying to figure out an appropriate template.

Please disregard the flashes of colour and clashes that might shock you during your visit! I promise prettiness soon!! :)


Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Two Year Anniversary!

Dear Readers,

On July 8th, 2009, Straight From The Curls celebrated its second anniversary!

Thank you for taking the time to visit this corner of the web for the past couple of years. It's meant a lot to me, and I hope that you'll continue to do so in the days and months ahead. I appreciate all of your comments and feedback.

Visit soon!


Saturday, 11 July 2009

Hello, Short Curl!

I must have lost about 5 lbs today!

Around noon on Sunday I decided I needed to make a drastic change in my life. I was starting to get tired of feeling weighed down by all the stress I've been under lately, and wanted a fresh perspective. And for those of you who know me, you probably see where this is going.

The usual first victim in my attempt for catharsis was, you guessed it - my 'do!

That's right, folks... today at around 2:45 p.m. in the Eaton Centre, a wonderful stylist helped remove that which weighed me down for about two years now.

Ok, maybe I should back-track a bit.

I love my locks. I've come to love my curly hair in recent years, not because I like how it makes me look, but because it's a huge part of who I am.

People recognize me by my hair... and it's sort an extension of my personality: wild at times, free, unpredictable, yet, lovable? (maybe I'm pushing it, yea?)

In any case, some of you may know that I had been growing it out for some time... a long time, actually.

Yet each time I went in for a cut and was tempted to get the much desired bob (a la Carrie Bradshaw, SATC season 4/5), I was ALWAYS talked out of it. And with good reason. I'd dealt with the dreaded 'pyramid triangle look' before, and wasn't willing to go there again.

But, the weight!

One of the blessings and curses of being a child of post-colonialism: thick, kinky curls!

And though the curls were starting to loosen up with the length, it didn't help that they were weighing me down.

So, catharsis.

My locks that tumbled half way down my back have now been cut to shoulder length.... maybe slightly less. But the beauty in this... what makes it different from all the other cuts? TEXTURIZING!

The stylist removed bulk and weight from my hair by using a texturizing scissor to snip off pieces of hair, while still maintaining the style.

The result? A short bob that sits just above the shoulders. Something I haven't had since I was a young'un!

Who would have thought it would be that simple to lose 5 lbs?

Now, I'm weight-less and excuse-less: phase 2 of catharsis begins this week. I'm not sure what the next step is, but I know it will come to me.


Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Seventh Day of July

This was my favourite part of today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Thursday, 2 July 2009

And when I get that feeling...'s called Textual Seething.

It’s official. We’re now living in a world where ‘texty’ words like ur, dat, l8er, cya, ttyl and omg are starting to replace those from the Oxford English Dictionary.

I remember a student in one of my university English classes who received an automatic fail for (possibly subconsciously) inserting the word ‘ur’ instead of ‘you are’ into an essay.

An honest mistake? Probably.

Truly, I don’t quite understand how people do it. How do people carry on relationships that are created on a foundation of text messages, MSN conversations and Facebook wall posts?

I’m writing this post after a lot of thought and a lot of examples that have surfaced in my life lately.

Take for example a friend I met up with a few days back. She’s seeing someone who she really likes and said that they ‘text’ a lot. This results in her reading into the texts too much, looking for hidden messages in the words being transmitted on her little screen.

“Guys don’t put a lot of thought into these things,” I said. “They just respond with whatever.”

“No way!” she exclaimed. “He admitted that he really thinks about it a lot before he sends a text out. That’s why it takes him so long to get back to me.”


You’re telling me that he thought long and hard before he sent you a message that consisted of a bunch of letters and numbers blended together, aimed at reaching your heart? And now you’re supposed to spend the next few hours trying to decipher the message in code, only to respond back with your own coded message?


Another friend who swore she’d never learn how to use a number pad on a phone to spell words out, spent the past few months scrolling through archived text messages as evidence of how her ex led her on.

“It started off nicely you know?” she said. “He’d text me cute little notes throughout the day and I’d respond back… and then, one day, the texts began to get shorter and shorter till there was nothing left. Then he disappeared."

I’m sure he didn’t disappear. He lost interest.

The funny part about that relationship is in the two months of them dating, they met face-to-face about four times.

A guy who texts you an average of eight times a day, telling you he misses you and can’t wait to see you, only makes an effort to see you four times in 2 months.

These are the days of textual relationships. Times when people rely so heavily on screened conversations, that when they find themselves face-to-face with others, they're at a loss for words.

According to Urban Dictionary Online, a textual relationship is one “with someone through texting, but never talking, meeting or interacting with them in real-life. - Someone you text alot, but would never/rarely talk to in person.”

Lovely, isn’t it?

I've heard of people being so confident through texts (someone still needs to explain to me what a 'confident text' is), but that when meeting in person, they have an altered personality.

Hmm... maaaaaaybe it's because said person doesn't know how to socialize because he/she spends so much time in front of screens! Just a thought.

I admit it. I indulge in text messaging as well. But here are some of the times or situations in which I would text:

- Running Late
- Reminder
- If it’s too late to call someone and you really need to ask them something
- A random message to your so and so, reminding them of your tête-à-tête from the night before…. or warning them of things to come (admittedly this one would be a ton of fun!)

I've actually stopped communications with some people because I couldn't keep up with their daily stream of texts. One said person took it personally when I didn't respond to his 20 texts per day.

Again, nothing personal -- I guess I'm just not texty enough for ya!

If it’s a special occasion, you’re better off sending them an e-card, calling them or writing a letter. THAT shows you care… Sorry folks, but I’ve never appreciated a “Birthday Text” or a "Congrats Text."

We make an effort to get to a computer and check our e-mail an average of three times a day… a simple note to your friend with actual words will go a long way in these times of html and "write your message in 140 characters or less."

And, dear Mister, call me old-fashioned, but I refuse to have textual relations with you.


Note: These cartoons were found through Google Images. Credit to the artists.
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