The Craziness that is my Mother

I know a lot of people complain about their own mother’s annoying, obsessive behavior. I know I am not alone when dealing with a lifetime of never feeling like I will ever have a normal, healthy relationship with my mother.

This isn’t another rant of oh-how-my-mom-is-driving-me-crazy. I most definitely have written such venting, desperate, plea for relief type posts here. But this time, it’s about how in some sad, twisted way, my mother’s relentless, stubbornness has actually become a source of happiness for me.

Wait… no. Let me clarify. Nothing of her obsessiveness actually makes me happy. It’s just… well… let me give you an example.

My mom prides herself on saving money. And to be quite fair, she is good at putting away cash for a rainy day. However, she’s not REALLY great at saving money. Behind this facade is the need to always get a great bang for a buck.

Take one of our local pubs. They have daily specials and on Wednesday, they have their 10oz Angus steak for $15. It comes with two sides. And while we’re not talking about the best chophouse even at the level of a franchise monster like The Keg, I have to admit, for a quick fix on mid-week steak crave, it does the trick.

We plan on going to dinner at this pub after our daughter’s music night performance. I knew my parents would be game going to this pub. It’s decent food, large quantities and for a great price. Service… so-so. I mean, when we go for brunch, the service is amazing. For dinner? Not that the service is horrible, but twice I ordered their Australian Cabernet Sauvignon only to get some type of white wine. I mean, come on! Cab-sav? Who doesn’t know that is clearly a red?

My dad and I are both carnivores. Our weakness will always be steaks. So going to this pub for their Wednesday night steak special is a no brainer. It’s a school night and we’ll be in and out with our tummies fed.

My mom, however, isn’t so much of a steak-lover. She likes it, but her weakness is something she doesn’t get at home. Pub style nachos. She’s a sucker for them. But because the special for that night is a really good deal when you consider a saving of $13 for their steaks as any other night it will cost $28 for the 10 oz-er, my mom states she will get the steak as well.

I look at her and ask, “But you like nachos.”

She replies matter-of-factually, “The steaks are a very good deal!”

“Mom, the nachos are $14. You’ll be saving yourself a dollar. You don’t even like steaks that much.”

“But the nachos are always $14. The steaks are a good deal that night!”

Of course, by this point, I’ve lost interest in trying to reason with her.

This is just a small smidgen example of what is pretty much her constant state. Magnify this by 25 and you’re much closer to what it is like to live in my mother’s world.

I haven’t even gotten to that time she went on a cruise to Alaska and the one night they served lobster tails was the same day my mom was feeling motion sickness. But she had to get her money’s worth and since the meals are all included and not limited to just one order, she ordered two and force-fed herself to finish every last bite.

Before leaving the table, she threw up her entire dinner right there at the table. Not only did she spoil her evening, but all those around her probably didn’t enjoy that sight (or smell) as well.

Get the picture?

And where was I going with this?

Oh yes. Right. So while I think my mom is completely crazed to live her life this way, it’s given us, my husband and I, many entertaining conversations with good laughs between some moments of frustration.

I can’t change the way my mom is. But I certainly can make the most of it.

If only my uncle were gay…

My uncle is a very intelligent man. And I love him very much. He is definitely part of the family. But there are times, most times, I get tired being around him. On one such incident, was yesterday, after returning from a long drive from Old Montreal – our quick stop from Sutton, QC, where we skied and snowboard for two days.

Old Montreal

Beautiful Old Montreal

White a short trip – one where I didn’t get to do as much as I had planned. One being to sneak away from my husband and daughter, find a cafe to sit and read in peace. Something that has lately become a luxury to me – we made the most of it. Unfortunately, as the decision to stay for 1 night (it originally was for 2 nights) was last-minute, reservations for our prime restaurant choices was pretty much impossible unless we wanted to eat at 9:30 PM. But we did find L’Orginal just in walking distance from our hotel.


Wonderful service and food at L’Original in Old Montreal

I had a great time with Doug and Chaeli. Chaeli attempted raw oysters and finished most of her wild mushroom fettucine. I was most impressed with her adventurous eating that night. Doug and I finished a bottle of very nice wine – which left me a bit on the drunk side when we left the restaurant. We also ordered their deer chops for two. I was in complete carnivore heaven.

Anyway, my uncle can be a stubborn, argumentative mule. And while he says he is not sexist or homophobic, he certainly has proven himself to be a complete liar.

Mont Sutton

Last shot of Mont Sutton before leaving

I try my best to bite my tongue in order to keep peace at the dinner table. But lets face it – It’s against my character not to let his little remarks go past me.

Yesterday, I found myself being attacked personally. Every thing I said, he had some condescending remark waiting for me. Everything I said, he had an argument for. And I know why. I had faced it all my life with men like him.

Mont Sutton

I wish I was snowboarding again rather than having dinner with my extended family

When around a man who can not come to terms that his wife wears the pants around the house, he will do whatever it takes to make his ego feel better by attacking the next strongest woman in that room (and in his life for that matter) to try to prove a point.

It’s so childish and tiring. And while I do not fight back nearly as much, I do distance myself from these family gatherings more and more. It’s become too much of an inconvenience to me and my special time to have to endure this stupidity at my expense over and over again.

Le Cafetier

We had brunch at Le Cafetier 3 mornings in a row

What does this have to be with him wishing he were gay? Simply because it might change his perspective on the way he is with others. He could still be sexist. He could still be a jerk. But… He would be forced to have a more open mind given the different challenges he would have faced when he would have come out.

Relaxation is Hard Work

I’m sitting here in our living room by the bay window. What a gorgeous morning. The sun is out. The air is crisp but not at all cold. I breathed it in deeply as I took Hobbes out for his morning habitual tinkle. I definitely have to go for a walk today, were my exact thoughts.

But I’m still in my PJ’s. And I’m still on my first cup of coffee.

Hobbes-the-dog is next to me. Snoring. Because you know, his morning potty break was exhausting.

As inviting as it is outside, I’ll be perfectly honest – the thought of staying in my PJ’s all day doing pretty much, well, nothing… sounds pretty damn good too!

Our good friends came over yesterday to pick-up C  for the movies. It was 2.5 hrs of being kid-free. Yet, all I did was work and clean the house. And to order the sushi/sashimi trays for dinner later on that evening when they all returned from Kung-Fu Panda 3.

A good evening… And with all the major work done yesterday, I definitely have earned my free-Sunday to just chill.

Yet, it is hard to relax. I always have this problem. I go on for months working steadily. And when I get a moment to relax, I don’t always know how to get into that mode. In fact, I’ve even been working hard at scheduling relaxation time into my weekly schedule. I know I’m not alone in this – I think a lot of people fall into this trap. And I believe with the way the work force is now in North America, it’s become a commonality.

I’m still amazed, though, that it requires this much energy to factor in relaxation and leisure time, followed my more energy to actually achieve it and stick with it!

It just goes to show how backwards our society has become.

I need to move to Germany where production is efficient and high, yet overtime results in a hefty labor fine (to the company) and holidays/vacation time are abundant.

But I don’t speak German so that plan is pretty much null.


Rainy weekend with Anthony Bourdain (and about hating Toronto)

One of my guilty pleasures is watching one of Anthony Bourdain’s food and travel show. ANY of his shows (now that he seems to have three of them that I know of – No Reservations, Layover and Parts Unknown).

This weekend was just filled with rain. And what better way to spend a rainy day watching Bourdain travel around the world, eating, drinking and really going off the beaten-path while you daydream that you are right next to him sharing his adventures?

Believe me – most of my fantasy vacations ideas stem from Mr. Bourdain.

And so I was at my parents’ place while Chaeli was at her equestrian riding lessons watching a 2012 episode of Layover. This one had him discovering the gems of Toronto:

It was, for the most part, a great episode of Toronto. The places he visited and the people he interviewed showed the true nature of my city. And while there were quick, random shots of the main attractions we are commonly known for, Bourdain quickly explained these areas as being just that – tourist traps – and quickly captured areas most tourists fail to every discover when they visit Toronto.

One thing that caught my attention right off the bat was one woman, at the very beginning, saying that Toronto is pretty much hated by all other cities and towns across Canada. That “they will find any reason to hate Toronto.”

To be honest, it’s something I’ve known for quite some time, but never actually experienced until I visited my husband’s hometown, Thunder Bay. And I never took it personally until the day came where I found myself treated in a way which was an extension of this strong dislike of an entire city.

THEN… it became personal. Imagine not being able to say anything around “family” as everything you say becomes judged based on the fact that you are from “the big, bad city.” Imagine that you are “the reason” all things they don’t agree with when it comes to their precious son. Imagine your extended family showing almost zero interest in your career because it depicts the typical big city career that is opposite of the simple country lifestyle that they fight so hard to keep alive.

I still remember the proud moment I spent months working on a digital, hard-bound, professional photo book about their first grandchild for my in-law’s Christmas present only to hear them say, “Oh… um… thank you.” Apparently, the digital photo book was replacing the old-fashioned handmade scrapbook which was a sign of how lazy people were getting (and these lazy people is what is depicted of the big city – on the contrary, I did not see myself as lazy but it is the best I could do with what little free time I had). And so, to try to do something they would really like, I made a handmade mini-scrap book for mother’s day only to be told that I should have written at least where the photo was taken or what the event was from (my husband was there and I saw him nudging his mother, whispering, “It doesn’t matter!”)

In some ways, I’ve been learning to actually not take it personally – this attitude from my husband’s hometown. The fact is, their discrimination has shielded them from not getting to know me. I was doomed before I was even born and on this path that lead me to my marriage and therefore, this union to my in-laws.

When they gripe about Toronto, most of it stems from jealousy – how we get all the attention and development, how we don’t realize how good we have it, etc. The list goes on. Basically, it’s the same sad story I hear a lot of people gripe about when their own lives has become unsatisfactory. I’ve been there myself, so I know exactly what I’m talking about. Many of life’s lessons learned that have helped me grow up.

This is what I want to say…

Get over it.

Do something to better your position you are in. A big move or small move. Anything. Rather than point fingers, lay blame, get all nasty and bitter, change YOUR situation so you needn’t be filled with so much hatred towards a city that, like any other city or town big and small, will have bad people and horrible things going on… but we also have great aspects and fantastic people as part of the community and larger culture.

Toronto is not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay. But this “Hate on Toronto” is getting real tiring. It’s time to move on…

Well, now that winter is over…

I admit, I’ve been toying around with the idea of whether or not to continue blogging.

I love blogging. I miss it. But I’m trying to be fair to myself because obviously, I’m not being very consistent in my virtual space here. Neglect is almost too easy of a word.

Still I keep this place because I can’t seem to let go…

This past winter has been pretty crazy. The worst part was being sick for several weeks – a respiratory bug that just would not go away. I was left weak and winded most days. Because of this, I wasn’t able to work out and I’m now left frustrated with the 10 lbs I’ve gained. I don’t like how I feel and I’m hoping to tighten my body up again before summer hits.

I’ve also been traveling a lot. With most of them being business trips and a couple of leisure trips. Actually, one leisure trip and one weekend get away to my husband’s home town. I’ll be honest, I’m not looking forward to that trip. Being away from home for a weekend with no control as to how I spend my time is not idea. I have been working most weekends and this would have been a weekend I might have been able to just relax especially as it’s one where Doug is off for the entire week.

Spending time with a grump FIL and judgmental MIL is definitely putting me in a negative mood. But I’m not going there for them – I’m going there to surprise my SIL on her 40th. And I look forward to seeing my niece and nephew. I just need to get through a couple of days and nights. Probably with the help of a lot of red wine (note to self: pick up some strong Californian Cab Sav when I get there).

On the plus, while I hate the whole airport process, the business trips have been fabulous. I truly hate leaving my family behind and the days leading up to my departure, I get worried about being away from them. Once I’m at my destination, though, I’m often too busy and caught up in a positive vibe through valuable face-time with my team from the states.

The level of commitment and passion is so infectious – this might be a very big reason as to why I love my job!

We’ve also been on a cruise and a few days in Quebec for a ski/board trip. Both I hope to add as separate posts here…