why me

Paris, ville de l’amour & l’irritation extrême 

I just wanted to take pictures, y’all. Really.

I am in Paris for a 10-day work trip. (Check out what happened the last time I was left unsupervised in Paris.) Not complaining at all, but it remains I am not here to visit, I am here to put in 12+ hour days. When I leave my hotel in the morning, it is dark out. When I leave the office, it is darker. I gave myself an objective to try walk 30-60 mins every day, and find something worth taking as a picture. I’ve never really explored Paris at night, this trip would be my opportunity to see the usual landmarks in a different “light”.

Monday night, I met up with a former colleague of mine from my auditing days who has recently moved to Paris. I hadn’t seen him in two years. A delightful evening, bien arrosée, because we accountants = alcoholics and French wine is bae. By the time we said goodbye, it was 11pm. The resto was located in a safe part of town, approx 35 mins from my hotel – perfect opportunity to squeeze in my daily walk and pic quest. My walk brought me to the Louvre, which I needed to cross to get to the Seine bank, where I would need to walk for 15 mins, before crossing over the river.

As I stood on the street corner waiting for the light to change, a man approached me asking me if I was lost, because I looked confused. I answered him (in French) that I was debating if the open gate on our side of the Louvre would allow me to cross the entire courtyard, or whether the gate would be closed on the other end (on the river-side); I did not feel like walking about for nothing. He reassured me that the Louvre gates remained open all night, and that in fact he was walking in that direction himself, to reach the south bank. Perfect.

I really wanted to be in my bubble and enjoy the peaceful Parisian night – it is rare to find a moment where the city is quiet, almost sleeping. Chatty stranger watched me take pics of the Louvre, despite my hints that I did not want to delay him from joining his friends. This is the only pic I managed to squeeze in before Sir Annoyancealot ruined my mood.

Having crossed through the Louvre courtyard, I noticed the normally busy Seine bank was deserted. Great. I said goodbye to Sir Annoyancealot, who insisted on giving me a goodnight hug.

I did not want this hug. It was an impertinence, which he knew – he is French: they have the best manners in the world when they chose. That he was asking/insisting on a hug meant he was up to no good. I was faced with a dilemma: tell him to fuck-off and risk an escalation, or appease him. Boxing experience notwithstanding, I’ve been trained to handle a situation smoothly, just in case. Especially on a deserted street. Guy didn’t seem dangerous, more of a low-key creep trying his luck, looking to boost his male ego. Choosing safety over bravado, I let him hug me, but with arms flexed so that he couldn’t pull me close, and he would feel my strength. He attempted la bise, which he technically achieved, despite me successfully keeping him at arm’s distance.

You’d think he would be satisfied with that, no? No.

Sir Annoyancealot offered to walk with me a little more, even though I told him I wanted to be alone to enjoy the view. He continued talking to me, oblivious (or perhaps enjoying) that my conversation had gone from politely chatty to monosyllabic. I lied about where I was headed, and he insisted on re-saying goodbye, this time holding me firmly by either arm (payback for me having stiff-armed him: he had noticed my strength, and now it was my turn to notice his) with another bise. When his first kiss on the cheek landed on the corner of my mouth, I shoved him away such that he had to take 1-2 steps backwards.

He smiled at me, “Non, mais t’es tellement mignonne, j’ai envie de te croquer, tu sais.” Dropping all semblance of manners, I gave him my boxer look, “Tiens, mec, t’es vraiment mieux de ne pas t’essayer avec moi.” (“But you are so adorable, I just wanna eat you!” followed by “That’s nice, buddy, you better not try to.”) I walked away, and he didn’t follow me.


When I told that story to my colleagues yesterday, one dude shook his head and remarked that no French woman would have let herself be in such a scenario. That comment enraged me. It reminded me of the comment my Arab friend made, after I got lewdly propositioned in Beirut. It implies it is my fault, or perhaps that the women of my nationality aren’t as savvy as the locals. Wrong. I’ve been micro-aggressed in Canada too. This is what it means to be a woman; these are the kind of trade-offs I have to make every damn day, all the time: evaluating if I am willing to put up with possible unpleasant encounters in order to not deprive myself of a beautiful solitary nighttime walk. Evaluating if politeness will be a gateway to a dangerous situation. Evaluating the risk of escalation vs the need for appeasement. Evaluating just how far to react, if the guy is an actual dangerous person or just a creep. Having to be grateful that I have 8 years of fighting experience, because otherwise that would have been a much scarier experience.

I just wanted to take pictures, y’all. Really.


Last night, I left work “early” at 8:30pm so as to give myself plenty of time to walk the 1hr walk from l’Arc de Triomphe to my hotel near Notre-Dame. It wasn’t peaceful, bc 9pm is prime social time for Parisians, and les Champs-Elysées are always crowded, but it was nighttime and I did get my pics.

Behold, Paris at night.

TGIF & TGFM

TGIF – Thank God it’s Friday. And what a Friday. Work was brutal this week – 7:30am meetings, and a barrage of deliverables and issues. Kinda loved it, kinda hated. Need a nap. Or 3 bottles of wine, because hydration is important, y’all.

Yesterday I lived through a real WTF moment. I have a few doozies in this blog, under Dating Misadventures, and while yesterday’s might not be the top one, it definitely podiumed in the Olympics of Awful-yet-Hysterically-Funny-if-it-Happens-to-Someone-Else Trainwrecks. Seriously. I haven’t finished sorting through my reactions, nor am I willing to write about it for the next foreseeable future, because it would breach the privacy of two other people. I swear I don’t understand how I end up in these ludicrous scenarios. I am a good part-time Christian girl, who is sweet, kind, loving and generous and occasionally mildly bitchy and snarky when things get really out of control. I am sure of this. I pay my taxes. I recycle. I donate to charity. I make my bed every day. I am not stupid, nor naive. I am good ppl. So whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy do I find myself in these bizarre situations? I blame the male species. If sexual orientation were a choice, I would have switched teams long ago.

Anyhow, today I woke up feeling like I had a hangover. After just a few too many minor incidents that produced work-rage (par for the course in office life – excel files crashing, 2-3 ppl who didn’t take the time to read my carefully worded emails, somebody taking my stapler) I was thisclose to a very public meltdown. Until I accidentally stumbled onto this video by my favorite band.

I challenge y’all to watch that and not have a smile on your face.

TGFM – Thank God for Music.

 

 

Punctuality really isn’t my thing. Mornings neither.

Back when I worked at a Big 4 accounting firm, my tardiness was legendary. I periodically rolled into the office at 9:30, 10:00, 10:30… But as I worked 60 hour weeks, frequently staying until the wee hours of the morning, nobody really complained. I had my staff and all the partners trained to never bother scheduling any client meetings with me before 9:30 at the earliest, because I just wouldn’t show up, sleeping right through it. It wasn’t that I didn’t value punctuality, teamwork or the importance of good customer service, it was just an accepted fact that I couldn’t wake up that early.

When I quit that job to head into industry 2 years ago, all my coworkers roasted me on the necessary changes I’d have to make to my lifestyle, as that kind of tardiness just isn’t acceptable in most companies. At my first job in industry, I cleared it with my boss (VP Finance): as long as I showed up by 9:30, he wouldn’t consider me late. In appreciation of this reasonable concession, I made a point of always showing before 9… sometimes even as early as 8am! I boasted of my earlybird timing when interviewing for my current job, last September. My prospective boss was all admiration, but told me that most of the team started around 8:30, so really no need to come in earlier.

Inevitably, since starting my current job 10 months ago, I’ve succeeded in showing before 9am maybe 4 times. I can’t explain it. Its not a question of commute, as it is almost next door to my former job, approximately 10 minutes closer to chez moi. My body just cannot get out of bed before 7:45… which makes it pretty damn hard to get to work before 9am when my commute is 40-50 mins long! Two months ago I showed up 45 minutes late to an 8:30am meeting with my two bosses (one of whom is the CFO of the division) and a supplier – the only explanation I could offer was an apologetic shrug, and a “I can’t do mornings”. CFO-boss could see how very contrite I was, but he was confused: he is a morning-type, usually at the office typing away at his laptop by 7:30am.

Well.

Next week, on Monday-Tuesday, we (CFO-boss and myself) will be hosting an important visitor from our parent company, flying in specifically to see us in Montreal from head office in Paris. To be fully ready for that meeting (day kicks off at 8:30am! YUCK!) I need to follow up on some issues with one of our subsidiaries in Germany. Unfortunately for me, the controller in Germany is on vacation this week, so the only time I can get the required information from him prior to the appearance of my visitor is by having a 7:30am (SEVEN THIRTY!!!!!!!!!!!) conference call with the German controller on Monday morning.

CFO-boss has kindly offered to call me on my cell at 6:30am to make sure I am awake and headed to the office. This is both embarrassing and the only practical solution to this disaster in my life.

#preemptivefail

#noshame

#fml

Somehow I never pictured Jesus as a micromanager 

As per my promise to Coach to maintain my fitness levels despite my frequent travels, I have visited in the past 3 months a boxing gym in Beirut, San Diego, and most recently, Denver. My motivation was high this trip, as I will be fighting in a tournament in a week’s time. Never mind my usual concerns with American cuisine (crazy portions, salt, and so many nasty chemicals and preservatives), I was eager to train to keep my cardio, power and eyes sharp. With 7 days between my return to Montreal and my fight, there is no time to get back into shape. I needed to be in better shape than when I left.

I spent an hour googling Denver boxing and MMA gyms before settling on one that seemed combat oriented (I’ve no interest in the fitness cardio-boxing stuff). Monday, I  was warmly greeted by 3 coaches. They worked me hard, or perhaps that was just my body adapting badly to the elevation in Denver. They pointed out weaknesses in my boxing that are similar to what Coach harps on about. For example, to convey that I don’t move my head enough, one of the Denver coaches told me, “don’t be taking the time to admire your work. Don’t be a fool. If your opponent is any good, they’ll make sure you don’t have any time to do so.

I was slightly taken aback when the coaches gathered up the students at the end of class, formed a circle and led a worship prayer. I’m not at all opposed to end my training with a coach beseeching our Heavenly Father to watch over the health of all the boxers at the gym. I’m just used to stretching my muscles instead.

I trained at the gym all week.

On my last day there, as I was working the pads with one of the coaches, he told me that I’m too loud when I exhale: it is a tell, which warns my opponent of an incoming punch. He suggested that I learn to exhale by my nose instead. I was pretty sceptical, especially when he told me that all the good élite & pro boxers breathe by their nose. I’m by no means a true boxing aficionado, but I’ve spent a fair bit of time watching my teammates and all the pros at my gym, and we all exhale through our mouths. I guess the pros at my gym have a ways to learn?

So I tried breathing out my nose while doing pads. Like a lot of people, when I train intensely, my nose is runny. And boy, was it runny that day. My first exhalation produced a 3 foot long and 2 foot wide stream of snot.

Side note: I just googled images of snot, to insert into this blog post. Having done that, I feel a little queasy and will NOT share any of those pics here. You’re all welcome.

Ok, so I lied. Still less gross than what actually happened to me at the gym.

Denver coach encouraged me to keep trying. During the next combo, I exhaled once again through my nose. Another stream of snot sprayed forth. And another. It was DISTRACTING me. What if my snot landed in his eye, or worse, in mine?! After 3-4 tries, I stopped doing pads, wiped my nose on my sleeve (#classy) and told coach I couldn’t do it, I really wasn’t comfortable with switching my breathing so close to a fight (#diplomaticandtactful). To which he replied,

What do you mean you can’t? Of course you can! Do you believe in the Lord Jesus? Yes? Well then He will help you breathe through your nose.

And that is how I learned that Jesus is a micromanager.

http://www.kcbob.com/2013/02/is-god-micromanager.html (a blog post that opines on whether God is a micromanager)

P.S. If at any point in my fight next week I get the impression that I am losing, I will not hesitate to snot-spray my way to a victory in round 3. My poor opponent will not have the defensive skills to combat Snotzilla.

 

A highly accurate, scientific comparison of weight loss prep between male and female boxers

To all my non-boxers out there: you are probably aware that there are multiple weight categories in boxing, for the safety of the boxers and the fairness of the fights. Typically, a boxer will have an everyday walking weight that is heavier than their fighting weight category, and will drop weight in time for the weigh-in which usually occurs btn 4 and 36 hours before the fight (depending on the importance of the fight, and if it is amateur/pro. The time gap between weigh-in and fight is longer the more serious the fight, to allow fighters adequate time to recover from some of the more extreme weight loss techniques and rehydrate and re-energize.)


It’s competition season at the gym. Everyone is discussing weight categories, diets, strategies, non stop. I’m gearing up for my first fight in 2 years, and so I am in the midst of my own weight loss journey. It has come to my attention that the female and male boxers at my gym prep VERY differently for their weight. Here is a totally accurate, extremely scientific summary of how each gender makes weight.

Female fighters

6 weeks out: The female fighter will weigh herself furtively. Pretend it never happened. Start planning out her social calendar to see how many events she will be attending before her fight, and the nature of those events: will there be food? If so, what kind of food. Using that information, the female fighter will determine a reasonable amount of weight that can be lost in the 6 week period. Then, the female fighter will talk to Coach about her feelings: “Coach, I feel I should fight at X weight. I feel that will make me taller than the other girls, and faster. I feel that is what I should do.” Coach will ask her if she can drop that weight. The female fighter will start listing her calendar, the moon cycle, the levels of stress in her life, the situation at work, the weather as relevant factors. Coach’s eyes glaze over, and he never gets a yes or no answer to his question.

4 weeks out: the female fighter determines when her next period will be, and how the timing of it will impact her weight loss plan. Inevitably, it impacts her plan negatively, because inevitably, the female fighter forgot to factor in the entirely predictable, recurring bloat from PMS in her initial calculations for her reasonable weight-loss timetable. The female fighter shares her period symptoms (flow, number of shits, cramps, cravings) with all the other female fighters. Specific commiseration is reserved for the female fighters who are likely to get their period on the day of weigh-in.

3 weeks out: the female fighter posts hangry memes on Facebook and Instagram. She updates all her fellow boxers about each cheat meal/bite she has taken and frets that one cookie will derail her entire boxing career. She mutters reassuring half-sentences to herself, “It’s ok, if I stick to my diet, no more cheats, I should be ok. I’ll be ok. I just have to not eat anything when I go for brunch with all my best friends next weekend. I don’t need to eat anything. It’s my favourite restaurant – I’ve been there before; I can skip food this one time. It’s for a good cause.” The female fighter cuts all alcohol from her diet.

2 weeks out: The price of celery goes up across all grocery stores in the city. Every male boxer in the gym has heard about every female boxer’s weight loss struggles and is uncomfortably familiar with their menstrual cycle and impact on their body. At least one female fighter has had a freak out and questioned her place in the Universe, “If I can’t even be disciplined and stick to my diet plan for just a few weeks, what does that say about who I am as a person? I don’t think I have the mental fortitude to be a fighter. Maybe I should move up a weight category. I don’t WANT to move up a weight category: I like MY weight category. I’m just immature, I lack dedication. A grown-ass woman should be able to survive without chocolate or candy for a few weeks, no?! But I LIKE chocolate and candy. This sport is stupid.”

Daily for 2 weeks straight: the female fighter will weigh herself 1-4 times a day, and can guesstimate her fluctuations due to clothes, time of day, mood, and humidity. She’ll do daily cardio sessions, talk about her weight to coworkers, friends, teammates, strangers on the bus, and her cat.

Day of the weigh-in: the female fighter will abstain from food or liquids and weigh in at +/- 0.25lbs, stripped down to her underwear. The female fighter will then look at a protein bar or banana and promptly regain 5lbs.

Male fighters

At some point in the 3-4 weeks leading up to a fight, while they are sitting around joking with their teammates, one of them will perk up, turn to Coach and ask, “Hey Coach, am I fighting in (choose one) weight category? Yeah? Ok. I should probably drop 15lbs then”.

3 days later: “Coach, I lost 7lbs. I ate a veggie.”

1 week before the fight: “Oh, I’m still 8lbs overweight. I guess I’ll cut out alcohol from my diet.”

Day of the weigh-in: makes weight with a 2lb buffer.

GENDER INEQUALITY IS A THING Y’ALL. THIS PROVES IT.

When Google is not helpful

Guys – humans of the male gender – this post is not for you.

To make a very long story short, I got a copper IUD installed this month.

Well.

When the internet and the doctor (equally reliable sources, obvi) say that an IUD might cause “heavier flow and cramping” in the first few months, possibly forever, THEY DIDN’T WARN ME ENOUGH.

Day 12. TWELVE days of bleeding, and no sign of stopping. Bright red. Endless quantities. I didn’t know I had that much blood in my body. I will be anemic in the near future. I also understand why IUD’s have such a high rate of effectiveness: it is impossible to have sex when you are internally hemorrhaging, and your ovaries are trying to exit your body by beating their way through your pelvic wall.

Of COURSE, I did what any normal person would do, and I googled “first period after copper IUD” and now I am completely hysterical. I’m so freaked out and upset, I haven’t eaten chocolate in 48 hours. I don’t have the appetite for it.

I am never going to have sex again, because I will bleed out and die. The internet says so (no joke, one of the first hits to that google search is an article for Elle.com titled “Is my IUD killing me?“), therefore it must be true. According to this thread on reddit.com, I basically should just draft my will, because any day now, I will drown in a pool of my own blood.

The internet never lies.

I want to weep.

Current mood – and if you think this is too far, and too gross, SO DO I. SPEAK TO MY UTERUS.