Oh to be young again!

Remember the last time you had a crush? A couple of my friends have been throwing around the word lately, which feels weird because we’re in our thirties. Aren’t crushes and swooning for teenagers? I am an expert on teenage crushes having had many, many crushes myself when I was younger.

I was looking for a poem to share today and I found this one I wrote last year. From the looks of it, I had a crush on someone who had a crush on me. (I know who it is, but I won’t say. I’m blushing as I’m typing this!) I guess I wanted him to make the first move, which obviously never happened.

Nevertheless, I think crushes are fun. They keep you dreaming, they keep you giddy and nervous and in a constant state of anticipation, which, as an adult, you might need sometimes. It’s even more intense when your crush might have a crush on you! A crush then becomes this vortex of fantasy, a longing and wishing until one day one of you fights back the fear and says, “I think you’re kinda awesome.”

Siiiigh.

The Crush by Vikera Hunte

He plays with my mind

like a kitten with a ball of string.
He touches, then runs away -
intrigued but scared
wanting to but not wanting to
and then not wanting to but still wanting to

“See you soon,” he says.

Maybe one day
he’ll want me enough to not be scared
Or not want me enough to let me go.

Maybe one day
desire will overcome fear.

Maybe.

Virtual Blog Tour – a short trip in the Mind Maze

I was nominated to do this challenge a few weeks ago by the blogger behind Vernette Out Loud. This fab Trinidadian blogger was the one who actually inspired me to start blogging almost a year ago. She nominated me for this Blog Tour a few weeks ago and I had to accept! Thank you for thinking of me, V! I have been looking forward to this post since the nomination, so here goes!

The Challenge

1. Compose a one-time post which is posted on Monday (date will be given to you from whoever passes on the tour).

2. Answer these four questions about your creative process which lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do:

  • What am I working on?
  • How does my work differ from others of its genre?
  • Why do I write/create what I do?
  • How does your writing/creating process work?

1. What am I working on?

I’m not really working on anything specifically. I made a commitment to this blog and while it’s not always regular, it’s funny and thoughtful when I do post. It feeds that creative need that gets dampened by life sometimes. I don’t really have a vision for the Mind Maze. It continues to be a work in progress, each post a stroke on the canvas.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I will admit, I don’t read nearly as many other blogs as I should. As a result, I cannot make a comparison between my blog and others. I think there are a lot of bloggers out there, sharing their passions and fears and hopes and dreams, writing because they need to. If that’s a genre, then that’s the one I’m in. I am no different.

3. Why do I write/create?

I write because I have a gift. I write because I can’t speak all the thoughts in my mind – besides, who will listen to them all? Instead, I choose to speak some of them and then string together words, sentences, paragraphs with the rest and send them into the world. Honestly, this blog helps me unravel thoughts. The words and ideas swim around in my head, but when I write, I have to be coherent and streamlined, so it helps the thoughts form and out comes a blog post.

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

Okay, this is where things get tricky. Since I don’t really have a genre or theme per se, I just write about what I feel. I struggle every time with the boundaries between honesty and oversharing. It can take me 45 minutes to mull and decided how much is too much. There are times when things happen and I want to blog about it, but I wonder if it’s too much to share. It’s extremely challenging to edit so much of my life when I’m an open book. If you asked me to my face, I’d probably tell you everything, but with a blog, you have to censor.

Another thing is that I sometimes feel like my blog has no focus. Having said that, I know that a real person is messy and not always compartmentalized. There are many facets to any one person, so while today, I might post a poem, tomorrow I might want to share something that hurt me and then another day, I will be moved to write about the man I’m waiting to fall in love with one day. Other days, a picture of the sun will be all that I want to share. It’s what moves me. If I’m not moved by an emotion: happiness, hope, determination, goodwill, anger, frustration, whatever it is, I don’t post. Plain and simple.

******

Thus ends the tour. Thank you for taking this journey with me. :)

V

I don’t hate food. So what?

I don’t hate food. I just don’t. I enjoy eating and tasting food. My only restriction is if there’s meat or horseradish in it, not if it’s overloaded with calories or gluten or whatever else.”

Maybe it’s a cultural thing, and I suspect for a large part it is, but I’ve always had a healthy appetite. I enjoy eating. In the Trinidadian culture, an abundance of food is a sign of wealth and health. People often show off at weddings, not by the venue or the music, but by the spread of food presented. When someone comes over to your house, you offer food even if you live in a one-room home. Food is a good thing. Being a good cook is a high ranking skill in our culture. Being a vegetarian in a BIG carnivore culture was often met with disapproval because when I would visit others’ homes, they felt like they wouldn’t be able to feed me, which meant they were a failure as a host/hostess. Food is serious business in Trinidad.

Food is serious business here in Vancouver too, but not in the same way. How many times would you go somewhere and hear people beg off an offer of food because “I’m watching my figure,” or “I’m on a cleanse,” or my most hated, “I shouldn’t.” Okay, I get it. People want to lose weight and be healthy and be fit, I get it. I really do, but when did EVERYBODY stop enjoying food? Why ‘shouldn’t’ you eat food unless you’re allergic to something or you’re already full?

Let me ask you a question? When did rice become a bad thing? Remember when it was called “a staple” like flour and sugar and pasta and milk? None of which are welcome anymore, by the way.

[I want to apologize if I'm sounding sarcastic, but I just can't help it. The volcano has erupted. I can't control how the lava spews.]

I often go to potlucks and when you have treats and other stuff, it’s left untouched. Even if it is touched, there has to be a ten-minute preface about how bad it is and a spiel about weight-loss or calories. Do you know in Trinidad, there are things that we buy and eat and we don’t know where it was prepared, let alone what’s in it? Heck, doubles, which is pretty much our national food, is a kind of fried bread and people eat that all the time without batting an eyelash.

I feel like food should not be something that has to be apologized for before eating. Remember the good ole days when you said Grace Before Meals, giving thanks for the food. Now it’s the opposite. Now we have the Preface Before Meals. You don’t have to be religious to be thankful that you have food to eat, but maybe that’s what it is. Here in North America, having food is a given, so no big deal there, so something else needs to be said, I suppose.

There are days when I eat that I feel grateful to have that meal. When I prepare a great meal and Kidlet and I polish it off and go back for seconds, I feel grateful and happy. When he eats and he tells me he’s too full because of food I’ve prepared, I’m happy. What scares me is that, despite how I actually feel, I find myself saying things sometimes that I know I don’t believe. The subtly negative attitude towards food is starting to rub off on me slowly. I will try to make a genuine effort to resist it though. I’ll continue to drink my full fat milk and white rice and all the desserts I can get my grubby hands on and I won’t apologize for it.

V

p.s. I don’t think I’ve finished ranting about this yet…..

Hello all,

How’ve you been?

I was sitting here thinking about what to write about, but came up with nothing profound, so I just thought I would just have a bit of a chat and wish you a happy day today!

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.

As the sun sets on another week, if you’re Canadian, you’ll be heading into a long weekend, so that’s super exciting. If you’re not Canadian, you still are heading into a weekend, so what’s to complain about, right? Having said that though, every time Trinidad gets a long weekend and we don’t, I whine! Grrr

Also, I’m already starting to get excited about my birthday…it’s in December, so I’m a little bit ahead of myself, but hey, why not? I don’t know what I’m getting myself this year. I’m probably going to get another tattoo very soon, but that’s not a birthday present. I’ll be thinking hard about it.

Um, Kidlet and I don’t have much planned for the long weekend besides spending time with friends. I’m going to try to declutter our house a little bit more – an ongoing project. When you put two sentimental people in a house together, it amounts to a lot of ticket stubs and pieces of paper and every little thing that reminds us of a little thing. Sigh. One day……

Alright, well you have yourselves a good day whatever you get into and be happy! Remember, happiness is always up to you! :)

V

Ode to Vancouver

Well hello there! Good morning!

I was reminded over the weekend that the 6th anniversary of becoming Canadian was this weekend. That flew by quickly. One minute, I’m working at a Trinidadian daily newspaper, eating doubles every Saturday morning and callaloo and macaroni pie every Sunday for lunch and next thing you know, I’m a Vancouverite through and through – complete with vegetarian diet, rain boots and recycling bins. It’s amazing how time marches on and how life changes.

I went back to find a picture from my citizenship ceremony and realized that I was married at the time, so pictures of Ex-Husband were all throughout the album. They always seem to surprise me – pictures of XH, but that’s not what this post is about. Although, of course, my being in Canada is inextricably linked to him, so it’s kind of avoidable. Meh.

I didn’t plan on being Canadian. When I met him and we fell in love, it never crossed my mind that I’d have to move. Oh, to be young and a little bit stupid! After a couple years, we did move. I didn’t really know what to expect. All I knew was that it was far, but I didn’t expect Vancouver to be this beautiful. Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of trips and nowhere I’ve been is as good as here – not even Manhattan, which is saying a lot since I’m obsessed with that city. It’s not the most exciting place – I prefer the bustle of Vegas with the shopping and the noise and the crowds – but I accept Vancouver as my own.

I am Canadian! [Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.]

I am Canadian!
[Photo taken by Vikera Hunte. Please do not copy without permission.]

 So today I want to make a list of things I appreciate about living in Vancouver.

1. Being born and raised in a place where there is homogeneity and sameness, I always marvel at how cosmopolitan we are. I remember when I moved here and met people from LITERALLY all around the world. I met a guy one night from Azerbaijan. Do you know how blessed you are when you can casually meet someone from a place you have to look up on a map? When I first moved here and met a friend’s babysitter, who was from Nepal, I wanted to have a map and put a pin of the countries from which I met people. I still might do that. It’s fascinating.

2. The mountains and the ocean. I like the option of going up to Cypress for a day of snowshoeing, which I did on my own because I wanted to try something new and exciting – only to find out it was just hiking on snow! Then a few months later, being able to spend the whole day on the beach, lying in the sun, being warm and happy. In Vancouver, it’s easy to be outdoors – camping, hiking, going to the beach, paddleboarding, skiing: the options are endless.

3. It’s SO clean here! I mean, seriously! It’s clean here all the time. I appreciate the hard work of all those who keep our city clean. If you see litter somewhere, it’s always a surprise. In Manhattan, the garbage is just piled up on the sidewalk and it’s jarring. Here, garbage is whisked away and taken care of ever so discreetly. I love it.

4. On the same vein, I appreciate that we are mindful of our environment here. We take care of our planet and recycling is a BIG part of our culture. I’m not going to lie, I’m a recycling buff. I try to recycle everything all the time. It makes sense and it’ll be a good thing in the long run. On one of my trips back to Trinidad, for the first time I realized how much styrofoam was used and that everything was just GARBAGE. I did my part one year and took all the disposable (and biodegradable) things for Kidlet’s birthday party down there. I couldn’t bear contributing to the massive piles on the Beetham.

5. I just like how everybody gets along here. I mean, with so many different groups of people, everyone is integrated and open to different cultures. You are exposed to different kinds of food, music, religions, dances. I told Kidlet once that we should learn how to count to 10 or say “Thank you” in 10 different languages for fun – that’s still on my bucket list. Since I’ve been here, I’ve fallen in love with Japanese sushi, Thai pad thai, and Angolan kizomba.

When I fell in love with a man all those years ago, how could I have known that this would be my life today? I’ve said this before: there are days when I feel like I want to go home and there are days when I feel like I’m already home.

How I get what I want – Finale

What went before this:

How I get what I want: Part 1

How I get what I want: Part 2

How I get what I want: Part 3

We’ve come to the last installment of the money series. The three installments I elaborated on were the big ones. There are other small things I do to save money that I would love to share with you. Again, you don’t have to do what I suggest and it probably wouldn’t work for everybody, but it’s just another perspective.

Take advantage of offers

If you have a big project where most of your spending can be done at one place – think Home Depot for remodelling or a department store for a wardrobe overhaul – it might be a good idea to apply for credit there and take advantage of any offers they have. When I wasn’t working last year, I desperately needed lady things. I had a department store credit card that I got to save when I bought a mattress. I used and took advantage of the 3 months, no interest, no payments offer they had. I ended up with much more than if I was paying cash on the spot. I only apply for credit at store that I know I’ll be buying potentially big stuff over the years and can benefit from using a no interest, no payment situation. Use your credit wisely. Be careful though because if you want to actually use the credit card itself for buying small stuff, interest can be brutal. Use it for your benefit, not theirs.

Bank everything!

I bank any unexpected savings. I bank anything I sell. I bank money from bottle returns. I bank my annual no-claim discount from my car insurance. I bank anything I didn’t work for. I’m not going to lie to you, sometimes I use the unexpected money as mad money. For example, I’ve been wanting to get an e-reader and since I got a surprise refund from Toyota for $28 and the refund from the car insurance for the old car for $55, I might just get it this weekend. Now, I could bank this money, but maybe I’ll use it for my e-reader.

This brings me to the next point.

Reward yourself with a saved splurge

Being smart with money is not about reading books from the library by candlelight with the heat off. It can be very rewarding. I usually take Kidlet on a vacation on the years we don’t go to Trinidad. This year, because I wasn’t working for a large part of it, we kept things pretty low key. Still wanting to go on vacation, I looked up a cheap hotel, packed up food and did research for free or cheap outdoor things to do and took a road trip instead of a plane trip. The entire weekend cost about $250. You don’t always have to miss out on fun because you’re budget conscious. Now, back to my e-reader….hmmmmm….

Don’t get pressured into spending!

You are the only one who knows your financial situation. As the breadwinner (or not) you have a responsibility to yourself to provide. I can’t go out spending money all willy nilly without a thought to my bills and commitments. I have a bit of a reputation of being “thrifty”. I know fully well that the only money I have is what I make, so I’m not going to spend my life in debt for fun and games. If I can’t afford it or don’t know how I’m going to pay for it, it’s a no-go. Sorry. Be careful that you don’t get swept up in friends’ habits since their budget is not yours. They might be getting help that you know nothing about, so following them and not your own path can be detrimental. I have to always say, your real friends won’t care. They’ll be disappointed if you can’t go on vacation or go to the fancy dinner, but they’ll respect your decisions.

Do some things yourself

I’m the last one to be talking about doing things myself. I am notoriously lazy, but I’m finding out more and more that I’m capable of much more than I think. Now that I have more time to myself with my new job’s short commute and the new Kidlet schedule, I find that I’m spending time doing things my way. Instead of paying for a manicure, I have the time to look up videos online to do some snazzy things myself. I know that time is a premium, believe me, I do, but if you do things yourself for free in between paying for the service, you won’t feel like you’re spending a bunch of money nor will you feel like you aren’t spending money on yourself. Think buying fancy coffee on the weekends, but making coffee during the week or vice versa. Think washing your car yourself rather than using the car wash if you think it will rain within a week. Think researching updo hairstyles to stretch out the time in between haircuts.

Alright, that’s it, folks. Now you know what I know. Without seeing my actual bank account, you won’t know how good this advice is, but if nothing, this is really about looking at spending and credit in a different way. All I know is that being able to get a new car has made me rethink the impossible – owning my own home by myself. It’s just a dream for now, but I know if I keep this up, I can make it a reality. What can you make a reality?

How I get what I want – Part 3

What went before this:

How I get what I want: Part 1

How I get what I want: Part 2

Okay, so I’ve talked about saving money by choosing a good bank account. It might seem like it’s only a few dollars a month, but the point of that was to just think about how the money is going out the window. Keeping an eye on things and making conscious decisions about spending is what will make the difference. Today’s tip is one I swear by and could be the biggest life-changing mindshift.

Spread big payments over time

I go to Trinidad every two years for at least two weeks. I don’t know if you know this, but Vancouver and Trinidad are not exactly a hop and a skip away from each other. The tickets aren’t cheap and going out all the time when we’re down there isn’t cheap either. For the first few times, I bought the tickets early and saved money that way, but when I was there, I used my credit card for spending money. The problem with that is – and I’m sure you know – when you come back home, you have a huge bill that immediately kills your vacation buzz. What I started doing was thinking about how much money I would need for spending money; I used a generous estimate. I then divided that amount over the number of pay cheques until our trip. That way, I was going on my trip with all my spending ‘already paid for’. The first time I tried it, I even had leftover money. It was such a GREAT feeling not having any issues when I got back. There’s no guilt, no anxiety – just the memories. Even if I did need to use my credit card on my trip – think hair supplies or a steal of a deal thing – it’s only on splurge items that won’t break the bank rather than every meal for a two weeks. Also, because the money was pre-saved, it didn’t actually impact on my bank account while I was away. All around, it works!

I employ this strategy, not only for our trips, but for buying a lot of stuff actually. For example, getting my hair braided last weekend. I had saved what I thought it might be and when the time came, I spent my money with no reservations. I felt rich – not worrying about the price. I just plunked my money down, which included a generous tip, without batting an eyelash and sashayed out of the hair salon! Yeah, that’s how I do!

The trick to this is patience. Knowing what you want ahead of time and WAITING until you’ve saved for it. It makes all the difference.  Let me bend your mind. What is the difference between saving first on your own equal payment plan and THEN buying what you want rather than walking into a store and taking something home today and paying interest to the store for months and months AFTER. Think of my way as an interest-free payment plan. Makes sense, right? The only trick is that there is no instant gratification. What I’ve found is that when there is instant gratification on taking home something big on credit, it doesn’t always last. When you have to make your first payment after the fact or when you get your first credit card statement, it feels like, “Oh.” This is especially true if it’s something that takes a chunk out of your monthly budget.

I’m not going to lie to you: it takes discipline. What I’ve also figured out is that, if I have the money put aside, who knows, it might come in useful for something else along the way. Not relying on credit is a big thing, but I’m my own creditor: the Bank of Me. In a perfect world, that money would be sitting in your (hopefully free) bank account slowly gaining interest while you save all that you need. It’s worked for me on many, many things. It might work for you too.

This one is a big one, but it’s the one that’s made the biggest impact on my financial comfort.