Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cyclist in the City

There's a new cyclist in town. Well, I've been here for a while actually. About eight years to be exact. But I've only just become a cyclist. And it feels great. I feel like a real Torontonian now.

In the past, cyclists used to react in shock when I told them I didn't own a bike. They'd look at me like I was a really lame Torontonian. At leat, I felt that way. But I've always been afraid to navigate our busy streets. I've seen cyclists wipe out, I've known cyclists who have wiped out, and I've been a passenger in at least one car, in which the driver seethed with anger at cyclists that were seemingly in her way. But my thinking started to change after speaking to a couple of women at work about it. They too had been really scared, but they took the plunge anyway. And they said it wasn't that scary after all.

I have to admit the biggest catalyst for me wanting to get a bike was the TTC. It drives me nuts. The service is horrible and I'm paying 100 dollars a month for a pass. But now that I actually have a bike, the many reasons for having one are becoming clear. First of all, it's healthy! I might actually lose a few pounds on this thing! And it's better for the enviroment. If more of us put bicycles on the streets, maybe the city will be forced to make them more bike-friendly. I want to be a part of pushing a change in our car culture.

Second, it's fun! I feel like a kid again. There is so much freedom in having two wheels. I can now go to so many places, I otherwise wouldn't have, because now the trip is so quick.

I'm also realizing that having a bike is a great way to get out and see the city. Not the touristy stuff that is obvious to us all on the main streets, but the hidden nooks and crannies, that to me, make the city so wonderful.

I got my bike from a friend last Saturday. She's been riding a newer one. It wasn't until we walked both of our bikes over to her mechanic to get the tires filled, that I revealed I hadn't been on a bike in months. Her reaction was priceless. Her eyes got bigger and she said, "ohhhh". The mechanic suggested I ride around in a park before hitting the streets. But my friend figured the parking lot would do.

I felt so silly. I kept thinking of the phrase, "it's just like riding a bike. It all comes back to you". But it wasn't! Not right away, anyway. I was wobbly and insecure. But after a few spins around the parking lot, and tips and rules of the road from my friend, I headed home. And right away, I was thrilled. There I was, scared old me, riding the streets of Toronto! I got off at the major intersections to walk my bike across, but it still felt great.

I've been to the gym and back, and that's about it. But I'm going to map out the path of least resistance to work. Then I'm going to tell the TTC they can put their monthly pass where the sun doesn't shine. (Okay, I probably won't actually say that.)

I'm one of them now! A Toronto cyclist. And it feels great.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Lonely City

I often find Toronto to be a lonely city. Sure, there are lots of people out and about. I can't even begin to count how many I pass on the street in one day. But how many of them do we actually connect with?

I've had lovely moments of connection with random people. A quick chat about the weather, an exchange of warm smiles with a random stranger for no apparent reason, helping someone find their way. The feeling of joy and content it brings is astonishing. But those connections are few and far between. When you're a soul among others who are all marching alone, those can be some of the lonliest times of all.

Researchers have found that some of the happiest cities in Canada are on the East Coast. That's because they're some of the friendliest. Neighbours know each other. There's a good chance when someone goes out to run errands, or simply for a walk, they'll run into someone they know. And that makes people happy.

My boyfriend and I moved to a new community a few months ago. There are lots of families, and a park nearby. I was so excited to be part of a neighbourhood. I was certain we'd soon connect with people who live near us. We have become friendly with the neighbours right next door, and the ones that lived above us, but most of the neighbours barely even look up when we come in or out of the house.

I've tried to smile at people on the street. People with dogs seem to be more receptive. They tend to smile back. Men definately don't even make eye contact. I think I know why. There have been two men that have connected with me. And both of them were creepy. One guy called out to me as I passed with a smile, "I like the way you walk" in that 'ugh' kind of way. Maybe normal, nice guys keep to themselves so they don't freak women out.

I've always felt like a small town kinda girl, even though I grew up in the suburbs. I crave connection. Don't get me wrong, I love Toronto. And there are some great people that live here. Maybe I need to put myself out more; take a chance on saying hello. But it can be scary.

I've been trying to make eye contact with the people that pass, and what I've noticed, is fear. Let's face it - there are a lot of people we definately don't want to connect with. I feel safer when I keep to myself. But that fear is overiding the simples pleasures in a day. That guy that looks a thug, or that woman that seems crazy, could actually be wonderful, amazing people.

Next time you're out, and your in a relatively open, bright, safe place, try looking people in the eye. It could open up a whole new kinda day. Maybe you and I will connect. And then we won't feel so lonely.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Getting Naked at the Gym

I don't think I can get naked at the gym. I joined the YMCA last month and so many women bare it all in the change room - even stand and have conversations with others, naked or not, and lather themselves with body lotion.

I think it's fantastic and inspiring that these women are comfortable enough in their own skin to show it so freely. Perhaps the rest of us feel a sense of shame in exposing our bodies - so highly sexualized in North America. But I still don't think I can do it. Every time I get near the showers to use the bathroom, I try to discreetly check out the scene. Is everyone naked? I haven't needed to use the showers yet, you see. The Y is so close, I just walk home to get cleaned up. But I recently purchased all the gear I need to use the pool, and that means taking a shower.

I'm not worried about seeing other people naked, although I do fear that I'll stare. After all, how often do you get to observe the naked bodies of real women? It's a celebration of our vessels and their varying shapes and sizes. I'm just not ready to wear the same freedom badge.

Of course I fear looking like the silly one who needs to cover up when everyone else isn't. I can bear my chest quite easily, but even then, the thought occurs, "what if I bump into a co-worker or acquaintance?" Awwkwaard! My boyfriend's brother's girlfriend (still with me?) goes to the same gym. And I don't know that her and I are ready for that level of intimacy.

I hope in time I too will be comfortable enough to bare this body - to not even give it a second thought. But when I do finally get around to using my new swim suit, I think I'll keep my towel on.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Over-bearing Men

I've recently become aware of a problem that some women in the dating "scene" are experiencing: over-bearing men. Women have long been told not to chase a man. But it is equally unattractive when a gentleman plays the desperation card. Border line stalking/wigging out when a woman doesn't respond right away, or the way you want, is not going to get you the girl.

In these complicated dating times, women don't want to feel pressured or chased after. I realize how frustrating this must be to many men. I know how scary it can be to pluck up the courage to go after a woman. All I can say, is have some confidence in yourself before trying to catch a lady. If you are catch, then lay off the hard sell. A woman will have more respect for a guy that gives her space. Otherwise, she'll just feel pressured. And when a woman feels pressured, she doesn't even have the space to consider any sort of attraction.

I'm starting to grasp that there is a sort of game that does need to be played. And I hate the idea of being unnatural. But "game" denotes something very negative for many people. Perhaps "play" is a better term. Or maybe even just good old fashion "flirting". For two to tango, there needs to be some play, back and forth. When a woman feels up against a wall, how can that happen?

So believe in your goods, make that move and then let her make a play. Remember the good old phrase, "the ball is in her court"? If she isn't tossing them back, you're just overwhelming her with tennis balls! Confidence will take you leaps and bounds. Or at least get you a date.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Subway Etiquette

One of my biggest pet peeves is poor subway etiquette. It amazes me how many people seem to have no thought or regard for anyone else around them while riding the TTC. After a particularly uncomfortable subway ride home I just have to rant about a few of the things that drive me crazy.

The back-pack.

I just don't get it - why would someone think that it's okay to enter a packed subway with their back-pack on? Especially when it takes up the space of at least one other person. I figure these people (and there are many) just can't figure it out for themselves that taking off their pack and putting it on the floor would be a better, more thoughtful option. I hope it's stupidity rather than just not giving a shit about anyone else around you. I know that people wearing their back-packs probably don't even realize they are hitting someone with it but having a gym shoe shoved into your side while clinging onto the 3 inches of pole that's left, does not make for a fun ride.

The seat hogger.

I didn't pay to stand on the subway while you have a place to put your bags. When mass amounts of people get on the subway, they shouldn't have to ask you to move your shit in order to sit. Have some courtesy and put your bags on your lap. Oh yeah - and get your stinking feet off the seats.

The door blocker.

Okay, so when the train is really busy and you're the last one in, sometimes there is no other choice but to stand right in front of the door. What drives me insane is when someone chooses to stand in front of the door when they could easily sit or stand further in. Even worse is when two people decide this is a good idea and people have to get into single file to get on or off. It's just rude.

The runner.

When you hear those chimes start, there is a moment whne you have to accept that you're missing the train. Not only do you look like an idiot when half your body, or your bags are now stuck in the door, but you hold everyone up as well.

And last but not least, the slow-poke.

My last complaint (I swear) is when people enter the train and then just stop and look for the perfect seat. People are coming in behind ya, so pick a seat and sit your ass down.

I realize that even thought I rant, we will all be confronted by rude, or just vacant transit riders tomorrow. I fantasize about putting those people in their spot. Of telling them how rude and unthoughtful they're being. Then all the other riders would applause and cheer for they were too meek to say anything. But let's be honest, the next time some one's back pack is pressed up against MY back as well, I'll probably just grin and bear it and maybe give a little shove back.

Sunday, February 4, 2007


Hello and welcome to Portions For Foxes! A place for me to share my opinions, observations and random thoughts with all of you. Lord knows I have plenty of them. Please feel free to weigh in with your own views and experiences. I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bumping Into The Ex

Breaking up is hard to do. No matter how long the relationship, or who dumped who, it can be tough. But you mend that broken heart, pull yourself back together and move on. You achieve great things and laugh at how down-and-out you were. That was "sooo yesterday".

So why then, can bumping into an ex be so damn unnerving? You exchange pleasantries and maybe give each other an update. What now? Do you say, "Gee, it was great seeing you. Have a nice life." That would certainly make things simple. Instead, they write down their phone number. Hello, complicated.

This happened recently to a friend of mine. After seven years, the thought of bumping into her ex made her feel a little uneasy. But when it happened, she handled it pretty well. That is until he gave her his phone number.

He could have let the moment pass and waited until destiny had them run into each other again. Instead, he opened up a door. A door my friend really didn't feel comfortable with.

He had asked her so many questions but she didn't get any info about him. It was driving her nuts. She just had to know.

She figured the phone number was an invitation to keep in touch. So she sent him a text message. He responded immediately, telling her to give him a call so they could catch up. She did. But she had to leave him a voice message and he didn't return her call.

For two weeks she turned it over and over in her head. She decided no call had to mean she freaked him out. But he was the one who gave her his number. Now she just wanted to close the door. So she texted him once more.

She apologized for seemingly "spooking" him and told him to "take care". In other words, "you're a loser for getting freaked out over nothing. Have a nice life". He responded within four minutes, explaining he'd been working nights and only just got back from a trip out of town. "I'll call you and we'll hook up," he said. But he hasn't.

She tried to close that damn door. But he kicked it wide open again. Maybe he doesn't even realize that now, so is she.

Did he get freaked out and is now making exscuses for not calling? Or is he truly busy and just hasn't gotten around to it. After all, he doesn't owe her anything. But you'd think that by opening that door, he meant to walk through it. Instead, all my friend is getting is an uncomfortable draft. And a developing resentment that will hopefully allow her to move on once again.