I wish I Were Better At


I came across a blogger who wrote about things she wished she were better at. (Please read it here) I found it funny and enlightening (mostly funny) and joked in the comments that I was going to steal the idea.  After thinking about it, I realized that it was no joke.

I wish I were better at ignoring the noise of other people’s music on the bus. It isn’t as if my hearing is fantastic, but just something about those low bass squelches (I can’t really call it music) that I hear bleeding out of their ears really bothers me and ruins most of my commutes.

I wish I were better at meeting women in bars. I know, a hello is better than a pickup line, but it just doesn’t seem to feel like that.  Maybe I am going to the wrong bars.  That’s probably not true either.  Last week I went to a bar and saw at least 6 women that I found very attractive and others who were attractive.  I should probably go back there.

I wish I were better at marking my student’s writing. Maybe better isn’t the word.  Maybe more diligent is a more appropriate word.  If there is one thing I am good at, it is procrastinating.  Once the number of papers gets beyond ten, I just don’t want to look at them.

I wish I were better at climbing hills on my bicycle. Though the remedy for this seems obvious (practice) there is a psychological part of this that is much more difficult.  I am better at following people than I am soloing it.  With someone in front, I have something to concentrate on.  With nobody around, I start to get  in my head that I can’t do it and I should just give up.  Again, the solution seems obvious, (follow someone) but it isn’t that obvious.  I’ve got to find someone who matches my pace exactly (ebbs and flows) and that is not easy.  Having someone go too slow is a momentum killer (even if you pass them and feel heroic for a second or two) and having them roar off in the distance is a bit disheartening.

I wish I were better at cooking. I won’t starve and I won’t have to feast on cereal for the rest of my life, but I can’t make all the food that I want.  I also can’t seem to summon up the motivation to learn to cook what I want, or even attempt to cook what I want.  I guess that is why we are blessed with pizza parlours and Chipotle.

I wish I were better at drawing. While I feel (immodestly) that I have some talent for words, I really can’t sketch anything into a likeable image.  Even my stick figures confound my students.  If I were better at drawing, I could probably work in the comics industry.  This has been a dream of mine for a long time, and despite my age, it hasn’t abated one bit.

I wish I were better at reading my cat’s mind. Maybe then I would know what he thinks of me and why he does some of the frustrating things he does–like scratch up my couch.

I wish I were better at resisting appetite for pizza and chocolate. This is pretty much self explanatory.

What do you wish you were better at?


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, blog, blogging, blogposts, cycling, efficiency, self improvement | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Death of My Bib Shorts

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Despite my best efforts, some days I have to write about today’s terrible moment (lower case letters purposefully chosen) rather than Today’s Perfect Moment. By the end of the day, I am sure I will have decided upon and concentrated on that perfect moment, but for this brief moment, and I am sorry if it offends any of my readers, I need to rant a bit.

I was just getting my cycling gear sorted out and I realized that my bib shorts have died. There gone.  Done.  Finished.  Sigh. They were only two years old.  They’ve been warn on two continents.  They’re only two years old!  (I know, I already said that, but you can imagine my frustration.)

In what is the start of the season, I have go out and get new equipment. Groan.  Buying cycling shorts is probably my least favourite activity in all of cycling.  This includes changing and pumping up a tire, fixing the chain,  or any other maintenance.  Having to squeeze into unfamiliar stretchy clothes, usually in a cramped dressing room in a cycle shop really isn’t fun.  Maybe it would be better if I could black out the mirror until I got the whole thing on.  I also hate answering that question, ‘how are you doing in there?“.  How do you answer that one?

Then there’s the cost. Good cycling bibs aren’t cheap.  I know you get what you pay for, but I could probably buy four cheap ones at the price I paid for these.  These are Sugoi RSE–for the record.

I thought I was treating my shorts right. When I washed them I put them in a protective bag.  My washer doesn’t even have the traditional centre agitator for the bib to get caught and stretched on.

I think maybe I am taking this too personally.

I did like my kit, but I would love to hear your recommendations.  What bib shorts do you wear?  Please share this with other cyclists as I have to start shopping soon (tomorrow actually) and I would love a lot of feedback.  Please keep in mind, I am in Canada and only have access to retailers who sell in Canada (which is why I can’t get a Bicycling Jersey from the magazine that I so desperately want).


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, clothes, cycling, cycling gear, recommendations, shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Are You Still on the Traveller’s High he asked.

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I have been home a month from my vacation and one of my colleagues asked me if the “Traveller’s high” had warn off yet. I had to ask for clarification of what this was.

He explained that when you came back from a trip like mine, people were usually pumped up for a while. They were already talking about their next trip and still in mad contact with the people on their trips.  They were trying to replicate that life in their modern life–It made me think of an episode of How I Met Your Mother when Robin tries to mix her South American Trip life back in with her New York Life.

Looking back, I had all those symptoms. I had barely unpacked my bags when I started leafing through the catalogue of trips again.  The people on the trip were posting things to whatsapp several times a day–often at inconvenient hours for me living on a different continent.  I wrote several blogs about my next adventure, even trying to pester Exodus into sponsoring me to take a trip and blog about it.  Yes, I was definitely on a high.

The thing is, though, as I explored this idea today, I think I am still on it. I am actively planning my next trip, and actively worrying if I will be able to pay for it.  I am making a list of gear I want to buy for this real/hypothetical trip.  I am spending some of my commuting time thinking about what it is going to be like.

On the other hand, the posts to the app have died down considerably. I am still in contact with some people on Facebook, but that could be said about a lot of people.  I am still blogging about it, but that might just be because of my colleague’s questions.

The truth is, I don’t want this feeling to go away. I want to keep hold of this and nurture it to grow even bigger.  I don’t want this feeling to fade with time, only to be brought up when I look through the photographs or pass a Vietnamese restaurant and smell the coffee.  I don’t want it to be a thing of reverie and nostalgia.  I want it to live and breathe in the present.


Posted in adventure, ambition, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, coffee, Exodus Travels, nostalgia, travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indulgence on Two Fronts

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Yesterday was a long working day. If that sounds like a complaint, you’re wrong.  Besides this blog not being Today’s Whiny Moment, I actually like working.  I am grateful that there is extra work available.  I’ve got bills to pay, and a little bit more teaching for a roof over my head isn’t going to kill me.  If I do too much of it, the students may suffer under my wrath, but I’ll be okay.

Once I get off that righteous soapbox, I should also say that a long working day wears me out like everyone else. I got home feeling exhausted with bills to contemplate.  So, what did I do?  I participated in a little bit of food and TV indulgence, that’s what.

I had taped the Paris Roubaix bicycle race earlier in the day (one day after it officially happened–thanks Canadian sports channels for giving up on cycling this year) and sat down to watch it as I unwound. Two hours of a cycling race may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it fascinating.  As for food indulgence,  what better compliment that peanut butter and chocolate ice-cream.  That was yesterday’s Perfect Moment.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bicycles, cycling, food, sports, television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lament for the Weekend

Where did you go weekend?  I so clearly remember finishing work on Friday. I so clearly remember all the plans I had for the weekend.  There were things to clean.  There were things to organize.  I was finally going to straighten out the hobby room.  I was going to hang up my newly framed pictures.

The weekend had such potential. Besides all that drudgery, I had things I wanted to get out and do.  While, some of them got done, not nearly enough of them did to consider this a successful weekend.  I could have done so much more.

Now, here it is Sunday and all I can think about is sleep and waking up for work tomorrow.  All I can think of is the bus ride to work tomorrow.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, commuting, hard work, plans, tasks, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feeling Appreciated

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After having taken the Exodus Travels cycling in Vietnam trip, and blogging extensively about it, I noticed how popular the posts were.  I was getting lots of traffic on it from my readers, search engines and my review of the trip on Exodus’ website–where I (shamelessly, but also with the aim of informing interested people) included some links to my blogs.

Finding some encouragement, I contacted the marketing department at Exodus to see if there was any interest in my blogging. It seems to work for other people, so I figured I should give it a shot.  It never hurts to ask is a mantra I repeat to my students endlessly.  I spent time crafting a letter and sent it to them.  Like a lot of us, I had dreams of fully expense paid trips to exotic destinations, blogging from hotel rooms and campsites.  Again, it seems to work for some people….

There response was both prompt and heart-warming. While they couldn’t take me on as a full time blogger, they did take time to read my blogs and provide me with some positive feedback and appreciation.  When you get right down to it, that in itself, is worth quite a lot to me.  For all of us who are writing blogs, sometimes what you write exists in a vacuum.  While you don’t want to beg for responses, you feel like the writing is incomplete without them.  Thanks Exodus Travels.

In a show of appreciation for my work, they were kind enough to send me this amazing cookbook.   Now, my only question is “What’s for dinner?”


Posted in appreciation, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, books, cooking, Exodus, Exodus Travels, gifts, happiness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Mind Shrugged

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Today’s Perfect Moment is a moment that most people wouldn’t dare nominate for the prestigious title. Even before you get to it, based on the picture, you’re probably shaking your head.  I don’t blame you.  I need to turn the negative into a positive.  I need to find that shimmer of light in the darkness.  I need to paint a picture using dark colours.

I stepped off the bus on this spring day to be greeted by howling winds and a cruel mixture of snow and rain that pelted my face. My hands felt the cold that my now stowed for winter mitts would have prevented.  My head begged me to put on my toque, not knowing that it sharing a drawer with the mitts.  My brain merely shrugged.  Something didn’t make sense but the feeling of hunger gnawing my insides fought for prominence.  My feet, feeling sore and neglected whined anew as overly ventilated running shoes were obviously not meant for this.

It was at this moment that I chose it for today’s honour. How could this be Today’s Perfect Moment?  My cold body had no energy to protest something else.  My stomach had its own concerns and my brain shrugged before replaying the highlights of the day on some old fashioned newsreel.

What about coffee with a friend?   It was a warm and trendy, but not too trendy cafe.  Your companion was interesting, funny and appropirately lewd.  Why not that?

I pressed play on Procul Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale and crossed the street, heading for home. The cold became even more pronounced on my moving body. I contemplated what a white shade of pale would be, and looked at my surroundings.

Wait! What about that brilliant teaching moment?  What about those students you motivated to learn and speak at a time when they were burnt out and only thinking about all-you-can-eat sushi?  That could be Today’s Perfect Moment.

With the Hammond organ booming along, I surveyed the scene home.  This was the last gasp of winter.  This was winter trying to make a last stand.  I had my music playing, but I could see only silence.  I could feel only silence.

What about that guy who shared his music on the bus?  What about that guy who reeked of marijuana?

My mind shut up as the anger of that horrible afternoon commute rose and fell.  I took deep breaths, figuring I had heard the last of my mind.

What about that delicious orange you had?

Grasping for straws, I had to admit that the orange was delicious.  Vitamin C delicious.  However, I just could shake the idea that the gloom was somehow more captivating.  Home beckoned and my mind shrugged once more.


Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, music, snow, Spring, walking, weather | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Elementary


Any excuse to remind people of this film gem.


There’s a certain adrenaline rush when you’re in front of a new class. New teachers will be better acquainted with it than old ones.  They will probably mislabel it fear, but that isn’t a reason to distrust their descriptions.  I am pretty sure we all understand the connection between fear and adrenaline.

I don’t get that feeling often these days. I’ve got lots of teaching under my belt.  I’ve taught monolingual classrooms and multilingual classrooms.  I’ve taught children as young as 4 and adults well into their 80’s.  I’ve taught them all:  the stubborn and the fidgety, the bold and the loud, the quiet and the shy, the excited and the terrified.  I am still shy, but I find a way to channel that into things.  These days, I can get up in front of a crowd and talk to lots of people.

You’ll notice that I wrote that I don’t get that feeling of fear/adrenaline often, but I didn’t proclaim to never get it. Sometimes, there are unique teaching situations which provoke that response.  There are some teaching situations that force me back to this place of adrenaline rush.

That I might choose this as Today’s Perfect Moment shouldn’t be a complete surprise. The snow is gone, but I haven’t been out on my bike yet.  If I am not getting that intense feeling by risking my life on slopes or steeply curved roads, I am going to have to find it someplace else.

In today’s case, that place was an adult (over 30) elementary class with a few problem students. Today was my first day with them, but I had been warned that day before that several people were already rocking the boat.  They had had their first class the day before with a young (new) qualified teacher who probably obsessed over every second of her seamless lesson plan.  How would they react to a grizzled veteran whose lesson plan wouldn’t fully take shape until after the introduction were made?

I wasn’t concerned, but I knew that the stakes were a little higher than normal. These classes provide some of the most negative criticism in the whole school.  In the end, it all worked out pretty well.  The lesson plan worked and nobody broke down and cried.  The class didn’t provide that huge adrenaline rush, but there were some moments that got the heartbeat up a little.  A blank stare of total incomprehension can do that to you.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ESL, hard work, school, teaching, work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hey Commuter



Hey commuter.   No, not you.  Not the commuter who sits behind the wheel cursing the bad drivers, the stupid drivers, and the drivers who should just get moving instead of riding their brakes.  Not you who can’t find a radio station with something good on.  Not you who wearily eyes the gas gauge trying to estimate how far you can go before you absolutely have to.  I am not talking to you.

I am talking to the bus or subway commuter. The one who has the monthly pass or a coin case full of tokens.  Maybe you’re the one who has joined the technological revolution and is casually running the finger along the edge of your new presto pass.  I am talking to you.

What kind of commuter are you? Are you the book reader or the music listener?  Sometimes, I see people who are both and I can’t quite wrap my head around it.  Are you the sleeper or the sharp-eyed person caring more about who’s getting on or off than who’s still sitting there?  Are you the person staring through the fog covered windows at the world outside like you’re in some 80’s music video.

Are you the person on the phone who’s somewhat personal conversation is broadcast to all of us? Are you the one listening to music on headphones designed to irritate other passengers more than they are to improve your listening experience?  Are you the one who reeks of pot?  Are you the one who just needed to have a beer before you get home and have started drinking on the bus?  Please don’t forget to take your can home with you.  Nobody wants it rattling around the bus.  Are you the one who’s bag needs its own seat?  I shouldn’t be talking to you and your selfish ego, but I am.

Are you that beautiful women who boards the bus with her aura glowing for all to see? Are you that person that transforms the bus from a daily drudge to brilliant moment?  Are you the one who leaves suddenly, making all of us sigh? I am talking to you, but might not be able to hear it because I am saying it in my head instead of to you.  Shyness is a horrible thing.

While I can’t claim to be all of you, and I can’t claim to be none of you, I can admit that I am some of you. Today, with its rainy loneliness, I had time to contemplate this.  I  couldn’t find a perfect moment in it, but found moments worth writing about.



Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beer, bus, commuting, public transportation, subway | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unfinished Business and Succumbing to Nostalgia

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I am not really sure why I found myself in this situation today. I mean, I know I didn’t rake up all the leaves last fall, but I don’t know why.  Perhaps, I got lazy.  Perhaps, I was busy.  For all I know, there might have been an early snowfall that scuttled my plans for one final assault on the leaves.  I know I raked up some of them because I usually need about five to 8 bags of them, so today’s one really doesn’t represent all of them.

You’re now probably wondering why or how this could possibly be Today’s Perfect Moment. It should be obvious.  It is (or was depending on when you read this) a beautiful day outside.  It seems as if Spring has broken the grip Winter had held onto so tenaciously–I mean, it snowed here on Thursday.

Yes, yard work is a chore, but it is one I haven’t done since Autumn. If I had to choose between shovelling snow and raking leaves…..raking leaves.  Also, it gave me time to contemplate lots of things that were rattling around in leaves 001my brain.  On top of that, it provided a subject for today’s blog.

A small aside: Did you know that for almost all of the different nationalities I teach, the word nostalgia is the same.  It isn’t pronounced the same.  The g is either pronounced /ʤ/ or /j/ and even sometimes /h/.  Don’t even get me started on the stress and intonation.

While I was raking leaves, I flashed back to a memory of my childhood and the family cottage–long since sold and now probably worth the equivalent of a big house in Toronto or Vancouver.  My father had piled up all the leaves and my siblings, cousins and I were taking turns jumping into it with reckless abandon.  Though this probably caused my father to have to rake them over again, I don’t recall him minding.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, nostalgia, Spring, tasks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments