The Lonely Shoe

by PenRei

In a large metropolis like Toronto, a person can feel lonely despite being surrounded by 2 million people. It’s normal since we all have those days and most of these people are strangers. It’s hard keeping a sense of community with 2 million people who are inherently different.

Still, there are some things out there that come in a pair and shouldn’t be lonely, like gloves, headphones, shoes… but even they get lonely sometimes.

A lonely glove hanging out by the side of the road, I understand. You’re walking to work/a party/a date/a wedding/a book club/class/a sacrificing ritual/a sale and the sound of the city just isn’t doing it for you. You dig into you’re pockets/purse to pull out your iPod/MP3 player/phone and some headphones to drown out all the noise with you’re latest music acquisition. The wire of your earbuds is often tangled with other stuff, but you’re impatient, so you just pull it out and let the contents of your pockets/purse tumble to the bottom. Little did you know, one of your gloves was clinging to the wire and fell out in the process. Now, it’s lying there, on the sidewalk, scared, lonely, and abandoned. Its twin weeps in your pockets/purse, begging you to stop and pick it up. But you don’t listen. You’re ears are filled with a beat and you keep on walking by.

One day, it’s too cold to go out without your gloves. You go back into you’re pockets/purse, but there’s only one. You’ve now discovered what happened and there’s only one thing left to do: buy another pair. After all, gloves come in a matching pair. Now, the one still with you cries, knowing its fate is to be tossed in the trash and be abandoned as well. It’s a cruel fate!

This scenario has happened to everyone at least once (twice for me), so I can understand why I see single gloves lying on the street occasionally. If its lucky, a homeless person with cold hands will walk by and be so glad to find a glove. He/she will pick it up and love the glove for the warmth it’ll provide during the winter months. The glove has now found a new home where it will be loved. It’s the glove that gets thrown in the trash that has the worst fate of all.

Lonely abandoned shoes… I just don’t understand. Often have a I found a single shoe lying on the side walk, alone, with no owner in sight, and I wonder how in the world it got there. It’s not as obvious as a glove. You can’t accidentally take off your shoe while walking and not notice. If that does happen, get your brain checked out! There’s probably something wrong with you.

I have witnessed on many occasions someone’s glove accidentally falling out, followed by me signalling the person and giving them their lost item. But I have NEVER witnessed the loss of a lonely shoe. I really want to know how it happens!

I can just see it now. A couple walks down the street hand in hand. He’s commenting on how lovely she looks tonight. She smiles and thinks how lucky she is. Then, he unknowingly makes a backhanded comment about her incomfortable shoes. She becomes furious! She’s especially furious since those are the shoes she bought for the first time she met his parents to make an extra good impression. An outburst comes out and she tells him how insensitive he is. He has no idea where this is coming from! He just wondered why she wore shoes that pinched her feet instead of something more comfortable. A fight breaks out! Pedestrians pass by, wondering what just happened and if they’re about to witness the couple breaking up. Despite their curiosity, they keep on walking, knowing that it’s really none of their business.

The fight isn’t just about the shoes anymore, it’s about everything else that he’s doing wrong/things she never told him about. She’s pissed! He’s caught off guard and is getting pissed at the way she’s talking to him. Finally, she says that the night is over and storms off. As a final retaliation, he says (even if he doesn’t mean it) that she doesn’t look that great in her dress. There are no words left in her. She takes off one of her shoes and chucks it in his face. It’s hits him in the cheek and he leans down, holding his face in his hands because the stilleto heel felt like a knife. She storms off with only one shoe. He storms in the opposite direction wondering why women are so fucking crazy. The shoe is left behind to suffer the long lonely night ahead.

Wait… what? I don’t think that scenario actually happened. There must be another way that a shoe can get abandonned. Maybe the person is incredibly hammered that they lose their shoe without noticing? But how hammered do you have to be? I’ve never known anyone to be so drunk that they can’t tell if they have both shoes on or not.

Readers, please, hear my call! If any of you ever witness why there are random lonely shoes left in the streets of your city, SHARE YOUR STORY. I want to know the truth behind this strange occurence.

Why PenRei Doesn’t Drink

by PenRei

So, on Saturday November 19th, I went to a union party with my fellow coworkers. Technically I wasn’t a union member yet, but I would be in 10 days, so the union representative decided to put me on the list for the party.

To be quite honest, I wasn’t really interested in going. For the entirety of the week, I spent almost every minute outside of work locked in my apartment writing. (Sidenote: I would love to be a published fiction writer someday. Whether or not that happens, we’ll see.) It was great! I was on a roll and managed to push through that annoying writer’s block that everyone hates; the one where the black line cursor just flashes on the page, taunting you and making you feel like an idiot for not coming up with something. I had won the battle against the cursor for the week, and I didn’t want to give up.

Yet, I had already promised 5 people at work that I would go, plus I thought that I might benefit from social contact outside of the office. So I made myself all pretty, put on a dress, and went to the party.

All in all, I had a good time. I chatted with some people from work about things that had no relation to work, actually had a conversation with others aside from the polite exchange of hellos in the hallway, and got to see some drunk.

Now, I don’t really drink. In fact, I tend to only drink 2 glasses of wine a year. To put it simply, PenRei and alcohol are unmixy things… like oil and water: it just doesn’t work. In most cases, more than half a glass with alcohol will result in severe cramps and nausea, so it’s not exactly worth it for me. I have gotten used to being sober at parties when everyone else is drunk. Unfortunately, I was not ready to do that at a work party. Having put myself in hermit mode for the entire week, I already felt my social skills declining. On top of that, I was so used to being professional around people at work that I knew it would take a lot to loosen me up and be a normal human being. Enter alcohol! I made the sober decision that being sober for the party would just be filled with awkwardness. My choice drink of the evening: champagne. It was an open bar, so I could go for whatever I wanted without effecting my wallet.

After 2 glasses, I was drunk. Not embarrassingly drunk, but I had a solid buzz happening. I managed to loosen up and just have fun. But then, I did something that I now regret.

My friend and coworker Max Power asked me if I would be okay being set up on a blind date with one of his friends. With my guard and inhibitions left at the bottom of my second glass, I agreed. I then found out which of his friends it would be and this was a guy with yellow fever.

No, no, it’s not yellow fever in the sense of the viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes. I’m referring to the case where a person (usually white males) show a clear sexual preference towards asian women (the asians from Japan, Korea, Japan, ect.) Yes, I’m only half-asian, but apparently that still counts in the category. Now, to clarify, it’s sexual preference to point of sometimes obsession. For me, it’s not very attractive. I’m not interested in going out with someone to help them fulfill some kind of fantasy. I’m not an anime character come to life for you to play with!

Still, I had already accepted, so I decided to find out a bit more about this blind date of mine. Maybe he would turn out to be a catch and I could look for positive things to compensate for his yellow fever. So I asked Max Power’s girlfriend about him. The conversation went as such.

PenRei: Hey! So Max Power is thinking of setting me up on a blind date with one of his friends.

GF: Really? Which one?

PenRei: (insert name of guy)

GF: Oh… He’s really not attractive (brutally honest tone)… but he’s kind of funny (pity tone).

Womp womp!
It was sounding progressively more like a bad idea. She could have just told me that he had a sense humour. No! She clearly had to tell me that he wasn’t attractive first.  It makes a person wonder!

Sure, this makes me sound shallow and superficial, but we all would like to know that there is a potential for chemistry when it comes to a date. Nothing kills chemistry like hearing that the person isn’t attractive. So now, on my list, the candidate has yellow fever, isn’t attractive, and is only kind of funny (he didn’t even qualify for the funny guy category). This isn’t sounding to be too promising.

At this point, I am hoping that Max Power was so drunk that he forgot about the whole thing. I just can’t find a way to tell him that I’m not interested in actually going through with this without insulting his friend. Plus, I can never write fiction when I’m in a relationship. It’s so distracting! And I’m on a roll these days! But PenRei drank, and now she might be in a messy situation.

So remember kids, don’t drink and accept blind dates. It’s a dangerous thing to do!

I don’t think I’ll be drinking again anytime soon.

The Last Week

by PenRei

Hello readers! Sorry for my absence this last week. Life has just been crazy! Here’s a list of a few things that have been happening in no chronological order:

– Douggy Fresh’s surprise brithday party. Yes, she was very surprised. Her boyfriend and I played the roles of organizers and deceivers beautifully.

– Training a new girl at work to replace me at my job as production coordinator. Also, important to note that Ctwister (my work partner) was absence for two days, so I had to do his job, my job, and train the new girl. Quite an exhausting handful.

– Doing the paperwork for my new job starting on Monday. I’m not so much nervous about it, but mostly in dread by the annoying adjustment period. It’s the time between you start fresh and have no responsibilities, to when you are responsible and trying to figure out you’re place and workload. Unfortunately, so far in my jobs, I’ve pretty much been throw into the position. My training periods have been either very short or non-existent.

– Helping Johnny-Be-Good from his crappy tiny bachelor apartment to an great 1 bedroom in a fantastic location. I’m a little jealous of his apartment.

– Babysitting my friend Mon’s cat. The cat’s named Mackenzie and she is fantastic. I love spending time with her. She’s so cuddly without being clingy. On Saturday, I stayed over for 2 hours and watched John Carpenter’s The Thing (AWESOME!) while she cuddled into me.

– Attempting to see The Muppets, but unsuccessful at getting tickets. Instead, I saw My Week With Marilyn with a friend of mine. It was really good and a solid movie. Michelle Williams was fantastic as Marilyn Monroe. There were moments when I actually thought I was watching Marilyn.

– On Saturday, I was FINALLY able to start the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire. More to come about that later.

– Went to a work party and actually consumed alcohol. More on that to come soon! Yes, PenRei got drunk. The first time in… years.

Hopefully you will find some amusement in my next post about a drunk work party. For now, you are at least up to speed. I will try to be more active on this blog in the near future.

Discoveries are swell!

So in my continuous attempt to further my knowledge of things that are cool, funny and beautiful, I have recently been exposed by friends to a few small wonders.

The first being a documentary which SonJon introduced to me after finally showing me Toy Story 3 for the first time (I know.. I know…I’m a little late on that one) called “Animals are Beautiful People”, a 1974 documentary on wildlife in the Namib desert. Not only is it fascinating… it is also HILARIOUS! Combine the year 1974 with documentary/comedy filmmaking on animals with ex-BBC guy turned South African radio star narrating and a classical music, mostly ballet, soundtrack and you have yourself a GEM of a film.

So basically the documentary goes from the driest to the lushest parts of this desert, describing how wildlife, mostly animals, in all of these areas, go about surviving these usually harsh conditions… and also how they can be utterly ridiculous at times and other times, their existences really tragic. Exhibit A. is a montage of cartwheeling baboons to Brahm’s Hungarian Dance no.5. Pretty sure they repeat some of the exact same footage in there in an attempt at what can only be described as “music videoclip” . Exhibit B. is a bit of Tchaïkovsky’s “Waltz of Flowers” from The Nutcracker accompanying a montage of repeated closeups and awkward zooms into many, many flowers, blooming after a rare rainfall in the desert. So awkward…I mean you know the kind of zoom that’s way too fast, unfortunately planned, and is unnecessary; why oh why would it zoom to that (e.g. zoom into a skull with flowers growing in and around it as well as another zoom into a far too intimate look at some bulbs)?  Hah! Classic. They show adorably friendly Meerkat and disturbing yet intriguing Egg Eating Snakes. They show a few sad moments of starving and dying baby Pelicans and a lost baby Warthog just to get the emotional wheel turning as well as really frickin’ clever ass creatures’ survival methods (like a mother duck who will act the HELL out of the part of “wounded duck” to a hungry hyena, ensuring his full attention, luring him into the water, then making a quick escap, all to provide cover for her babies to escape. Like… wow. Teach me your ways.) All of this proving to me once again that animals are the best and nature is the coolest. Point final.

BUT ABOVE ALL THIS, a classic classic moment in this documentary is: the inebriation animals. Yes yes. You read that correctly. These animals all eat the overripe fruit from a Marula tree which rot and ferment in their stomachs…creating alcohol to run through their veins and hilarious times follow:

Jokes at the elephant at the beginning pushing the tree and the baboons so angry in the branches…

Baboon at 1:52 with the branch!

Also a note: the angry looking Marabou Storks are mentioned earlier in the documentary, as being the judgemental and snooty animals of the desert (hence them being called “marabout”, which is French for grumpy). So they’re not drunk… they’re just judging all the other animals…24/7 apparently. OH and you can bet that “When night falls…” was definitely just a darkening of the screen and not an actual series of nighttime shots. Finally, the classic hungover baboons and annoyed warthog kill me. *sigh* What a rollicking good time. And so interesting!!! Learning AND Laughing?! Sign. Me. Up.

My second discovery from a friend at school is the amazingness of Move, Pen, Move, a poem by Shane Koyczan, in particular this crazy beautiful dance number done to a reading of this poem.

To me what makes this a nearly perfect work of art is the cadence of the choreography and the complete sync between the rhythm of the words, the simple complexity of the emotions and the dancers’ bodies. Some of the most brilliant minds are behind spoken word and I believe that this work takes it even further. Just. I’m done with words now. I think I’m gonna watch that one again.

Nomes-out.

Kermit the Frog on The Hour

by PenRei

On November 4th, Canada and George Stromboulopoulos had the great honour to meet Kermit the Frog, truly an icon to many generations. He came on the CBC show The Hour and made us laugh, smile, and remember why we love him so much. I can’t even describe how awesome this interview is, so just watch it and enjoy.

Have a great Friday night and weekend!

Friday Morning “Lonely Boy”

by PenRei

It’s Friday! For most people, Friday’s are a happy occasion. Mine is a double-edged sword. Sure there’s just one day left until the weekend, but Friday also means I have to get up early. Instead of going to work at 11am, I have to drag my tired ass in at 9am. I know, for you normal people that’s not a big deal. But when you’re body has trouble falling asleep before 2am (like mine did yesterday), the morning feels a little painful.

Enough with the whining! What do I do to help me get up and seize the day?

My excitement for the new Black Keys album called El Camino coming out December 6th. I thoroughly love The Black Keys. I’ll admit, I discovered them from the 3rd Twilight soundtrack (Chop and Change was the best song of the movie), but loved them once I picked up Brothers and Rubber Factory.

So, to kick off this Friday right, here is their first single off the album: Lonely Boy.

Happy Friday!

The Hunger Games: a Book Review and Obssession

by PenRei

(For more book reviews, visit my personal blog at www.aireidt.com.)

Last week, I posted whinned about how everything in my life was getting between me and a very obssessive book.

This weekend, I devoured the second half of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The minute I read the last word and closed the book, I was twitching for more. This series has become an obssession in my life. I put the book down on my desk and immediately texted my friends to find someone who could lend me the second book, but there was no one. I checked online at the library; there were over 800 holds. I couldn’t wait that long! My last resort was to buy it. Luckily, Amazon had the trilogy on sale and I bought it Monday morning without a second thought. The Higher Powers must have heard my cry of despair, because my beautiful package arrived Tuesday afternoon, a full 3 days early.

Usually I would start with the small blurb published about the book, but I would like to state that not knowing a thing about the book made it that much better. I leave it up to you to decide if you would like to read on or keep the mystery alive for every page you will turn. I will try to write my review without giving the story away.

Summary:
Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (r)

Review:
I would like to start by saying that reading this book was an intensely enjoyable experience. I would like to give a big thumbs up to Suzanne Collins for successfully establishing everything you need to know about the characters and the world she created before throwing us into the intense action to come. Her exposition was well thought-out and provides a perfect opportunity for us to dive right into our main character’s skin, Katniss Everdeen. It is clear that this was intentional, because once the action starts, there is no time to explain anything about what is happening; you end up living it instead.

Collins wrote a book centred more around the actions of Katniss instead of her observations and thoughts. This statement is not to be mistaken as a one that the story lacks Katniss’ perspective. Collins succeeded so well early on at establishing Katniss’ place and opinion of the world she lives in that we, the reader, end up thinking like her. We understand her actions and motivations behind everything.

Collins successfully managed to balance the intense fast-paced scenes with slower moments, giving the reader time to breathe. There are times where I stopped breathing and just read until I found a break. During the slower-paced scenes, there was still plenty happening. Katniss’ bond with fellow district 12 member Peeta Mellark progresses at a plausible and satisfying pace.

In a literary time where passive and helpless Bella Swan (Twilight) has become the heroine of many impressionable young girls, Katniss Everdeen comes out as the exact opposite in a refreshing way. She is an active, strong, intelligent character whose priority is to care for her family. She places them before herself and will do anything throughout the book to keep them safe, without losing signt of who she is. In her battle for survival, Katniss demonstrates determination, wits, and ressourcefulness while remaining a scared and flawed character, rounding her off nicely. You root for her all the way!

On a deeper level, I think that Collins is commenting on our history of entertainment by combining both the horror of the Roman arena with the ridiculousness of modern reality tv. The Hunger Games is a battle to the death televised in front of the public, and it is a horrible manipulation. In the world Collins has created, the games make sense on a political and social level; within the world created. In the real world, you might even start to wonder if there is a line (and if we’ve crossed it yet) with regards to our desire to be entertained by watching someone be completely humiliated, in some cases even destroying their life socially and emotionally.

I highly recommend picking up The Hunger Games and letting yourself be taken away. Just be ready to dedicate a whole day or two. Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to stop. My final recommendation is to have the second and third books ready at your side. If you’re like me, you will be dying to know what happens next.

Bonne lecture!

Extra! Extra!
In case you haven’t heard the news circulating the internet on Monday. The officialy trailer for the movie is out… and it looks AWESOME! A couple of us in the office were buzzing with excitement. Gretchen and I were chatting with much anticipation. Come March 23rd, you’ll find me in a movie theatre not necessarily near you, but somewhere.

Again, I do not recomment watching this trailer before reading the book. Keep it a mystery! If you’ve read it already, ENJOY!

The Time Vortex

by PenRei

Hello fellow readers! Sorry for a prolonged absence, but you know, life happens and mine suddenly did. I feel like much has happened, but there’s not much to write about in this blog with enough substance.

I guess I’ll start by talking about something we all know that I refer to as the Time Vortex. It’s that weird event where you try and time your life for even the smallest things, but somehow this huge gap was taken away and you find yourself wondering just what happened.

Time Tunnel

courtesy of the old tv show The Time Tunnel

Case and point

It takes me 20 minutes every day to walk to work. I start at 11:15am. Math and logic dictates that if I leave at 10:55am, I should be arriving right on time. Unfortunately, I always appear to be arriving 5-10 minutes late when that happens. I choose the blame the elevator in my building since it is completely unpredictable (technically we have 4 elevators, but only 1 seems to reliable; the other 3 actually have personnalities of their own).

Last week, I decided to leave my house earlier to make sure that I got to work on time. I’ve been leaving around 10:45am and arrive at work every day at almost exactly 11:05am. WTF? I don’t get it! I’m walking. Not relying on public transportation or how good the traffic is. Walking should have an approximate set time.

Today, I decided to try and get to the office slightly early, but still definitely on time. I left at 10:50am. This should mean that I will arrive around 11:10am, giving me 5 minutes of play in case of stupid traffic lights that take forever to change. What happened? I ARRIVED AT 11:25am. WTF x2? How did it take me 35 minutes to walk to work today?

My only answer to this math puzzle, where none of the outcomes follow a form of logic, is the Time Vortex. Somehow, when I leave my apartment after 10:50am, at least 10 minutes are robbed from me while I am taking the elevator down 29 floors. Maybe the speed of the metal cube plumetting down to the ground is opening some kind of rift at the exact time every day and I somehow get caught in it.

It may not be a metal cube for you, and it may not be walking to work, but I know that the rest of you StruggleBots out there know what I’m talking about. The Time Vortex phenomenon is impossible to anticipate, and you never know when you’ll get caught up in it. We’ve all at one time or another lost precious minutes while travelling to a destination, but have absolutely no idea what happened to them.

Sidenote:
If I can get around to it today (maybe even tomorrow), I’ll write the requested review of my new obssession: The Hunger Games. It’s become a big deal in my life… and you’ll soon find out why.