Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Elton John, covid, and where have I heard this before?

So -- latest plot twist -- Elton John has covid, and has had to reschedule more shows in the U.S. , just days after he returned to the stage after an almost two-year delay in his tour.  :(  

Now, as I said in my last post, SIL & I have applied for a refund for our tickets for March 13th -- so I don't have a dog in this hunt anymore, so to speak -- but I'm still following the story because I'm curious how it's all going to shake out...! And of course, I want Elton to get better and finish his tour. I hope it's a mild case (sounds like it, so far) and that he has a speedy recovery. 

But with this latest twist, I found myself more thankful than ever that SIL & I had decided to cut our losses and ask for the refund, rather than continue to live with the uncertainty -- will our concert go ahead? will he have to cancel/reschedule (again!)? will the provincial capacity restrictions be lifted in time to allow the concert to go ahead? (And now: will Elton recover from covid in time to make the currently scheduled concert date?)  etc. etc. etc.  And, while I'm disappointed that we won't get to see him as we had planned, it's kind of a relief to have the issue (FINALLY) settled, one way or another. 

And it occurred to me that, hmmm, this felt familiar somehow...? 

Think about it:  what other time in my life have I made a decision (albeit one that was a lot more consequential than whether to keep trying to go to a concert that may or may not happen, in the middle of a global pandemic...!) to cut my losses, exert some control where I could and move forward with my life?  When else have I felt regret that something I had really looked forward to doing wasn't going to happen after all -- but at the same time, relief that the continued uncertainty, the constant feeling of being jerked around by forces outside of my control, was finally at an end?  

Well, if you're a reader of this blog, you know the answer. ;)  

In a similar vein, I haven't told too many people yet that SIL & I aren't going to the concert after all. I imagine that some people, hearing that we've decided to ask for a refund, might be thinking that well, we must not have wanted to see him very much after all, right? That we were SO CLOSE to March 13th;  that if we had just hung on to our tickets a little longer, we could have seen him. That our worries about covid are no big deal, that we should learn to think more positively and we'd achieve what we wanted. That all feels familiar too.  

Or am I stretching the comparison here?  ;)  

Have you ever recognized echoes of your infertility/loss journey and life lessons in other, seemingly unrelated situations, further down the road of your life? 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Odds & ends & updates

  • 2020, then rescheduled for Feb. 15, 2022):  on Wednesday, SIL told me she'd received a Facebook events notification that our concert date had been rescheduled (again!!) and was now going to be March 13th.  I checked my Ticketmaster app, and yep, that was the new date. 
    • I got an official email from Ticketmaster the next day about the change of date. It also said, "A voluntary refund window is available for 7 days for any fans unable to attend the newly scheduled date."  
      • I talked it over with SIL... and we decided to ask for the refund. :(  There didn't seem to be a simple way to do it via the app, but the email did say "Questions? Please reply to this email" so that's what I did, providing our seat numbers, transaction number, etc. (albeit NOT my credit card number!). 
      • I did eventually figure out how to request a refund through the app, and submitted that on Sunday afternoon. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly!  (It could take up to 30 days to process.)  
      • I figured that March 13th was still highly optimistic -- in fact, under the provincial government's current reopening plans (which are subject to change, depending on how things go...), capacity limits on large events venues (like arenas) will not be lifted until March 14th -- the day AFTER the concert!  Even if the concert did go ahead then, I just wasn't comfortable with the whole idea -- I just wouldn't have a good time, under the circumstances. As it turned out, SIL was of the same mind, so we decided to try to cut our losses and apply for the refund (total purchase, including taxes & fees, $566.75 -- not exactly peanuts). I had kept a printout of the transaction from when I bought the tickets -- Nov. 22, 2019.  We had NO idea then, did we??  :( 
  • In a similar vein: our dentists' appointments, which were cancelled last Monday because of a snowstorm and rescheduled for this Wednesday, have now been moved up to Tuesday/tomorrow. The office called us this morning to ask if we could reschedule (again), because the new hygienist I was assigned to is "not available." (Whenever I hear this now, I immediately suspect covid.)  
    • The thing about rescheduling appointments that annoys me most is that I still keep a paper planner/datebook (Filofax), and crossing things out makes everything look messy, lol.  I used to use white-out when I was still working and had easy access to a bottle at the office, but it's harder to find these days, and even when I do buy a bottle for myself, I use it so infrequently that it's usually dried out by the next time I open it up to use it...!   
  • Back in October, I wrote that it had been 40 (!!) years since dh & I met at university. Saturday night was 40 years since our "official" first date. Searching my blog archives (I love that I can do that...!), I found this post from 10 years ago, describing that date 30 years after the fact.  As I said on Facebook, there's still nobody I'd rather share my popcorn with. ;)  (Even though we haven't been to a movie theatre in two years because, covid...)  
    • We ordered in pizza for dinner and tried to figure out how FORTY YEARS (!!) can fly by so fast. As I said to dh, did you ever imagine then that 40 years later, we'd be sitting in a condo in this community, childless and retired, in the middle of a global pandemic??  (I don't think anyone could have...) 
  • I thought of Jody Day's hashtag, the #friendshipapocalypse of childlessness, when I read this article in The Atlantic. Its focus is the difficulty of maintaining friendships with friends who have children, after pregnancy loss &/or infertility. Potential trigger alert: the author has a five-year-old son, but only mentions him at the outset, and there's an ultrasound photo as well as the photo of an empty cradle at the top of the story. Sample passage: 
For some people, realizing that they can’t become biological parents easily or at all reorients their entire life—including their relationships. “We imagine having children around a similar time as our friends and seeing our children grow together … and that’s the next chapter of our friendship stories,” Kirmayer [Miriam Kirmayer, a clinical psychologist focused on friendship] said. Not being able to continue in sync and suddenly not having as much in common can feel like another kind of loss, she added. On the other side of the equation, friends who are busy with new parenthood may lack the energy to nurture a relationship with someone they have less and less in common with.

Still, I want to believe that rock-solid, unconditional friendships exist. That they can weather the joys of parenthood and the brutal isolation of infertility. That they’re big enough for both the parent who’s overwhelmed by child-rearing in a society devoid of support and the person who would do anything to be in the same daunting position. That both sides have full lives, which are sometimes gratifying and sometimes back-breakingly difficult. 
  • I listened to "Childless," the radio documentary/podcast I mentioned a few posts/days ago, featuring Irish journalist Hilary Fennell, Jody Day and several other childless-not-by-choice women living in Ireland (with those delightful accents ;)  ) sharing their experiences of life without children. It's an excellent 45-minute introduction to the topic that will hopefully open some eyes and spur further (much-needed) conversation on the subject. You can listen here. It's also available on Apple & Spotify.   
    • Jody & Hilary will be hosting a Q&A on Zoom on Thursday, Jan. 27th at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Register here to participate or to receive a recording of the conversation later. 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

"Taste" by Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci has been nothing less than stellar in every movie and/or TV show I've ever seen him in (including "Big Night," in which he and Tony Shalhoub play immigrant brothers running a restaurant)... and last year, his food/travel show on CNN, "Searching for Italy,"  helped make the pandemic just a wee bit more bearable. 

Now he's written a book, a memoir that revolves around food: "Taste: My Life Through Food."  And there are a few recipes thrown in for good measure. :) 

While I didn't grow up in an Italian family, I married into one 36+ years ago -- and I can confirm that Tucci's stories about Italians and food ring true, both from my own experiences/observations and the stories I've heard from dh, his brother, SIL and cousins, among others. :)  (Both Tucci's family and dh's come from the same region of Italy  -- Calabria, right in the toe of "the boot.")

And even if I didn't grow up eating Italian food (Chef Boyardee doesn't count), Tucci is just two months older than I am (I checked! -- he was born November 11, 1960) -- so I can definitely relate to his memories of growing up in a small town (in New York) in the 1960s and 70s. We also get some behind-the-scenes stories from the movies & TV shows he's worked on, his real-life experiences working in restaurants, memories of living in New York City in the early 1980s, glimpses of his family life, his alarming bout with oral cancer (which temporarily robbed him of the ability to taste and smell), and more. 

The second season of "Searching for Italy" begins on CNN on March 13th. I can't wait! :) In the meantime, this was a great read. If you're not hungry when you start reading, you will be when you put it down. ;)  My only quibble:  I wanted more. ;)  

5 stars on Goodreads 

This was Book #5 read to date in 2022 (and Book #5 finished in January), bringing me to 11% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 3 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

CNBC odds & ends

  • Gateway Women's Jody Day is one of six childless-not-by-choice women featured in a groundbreaking radio documentary airing Jan. 23rd (and repeating Jan. 29th) in Ireland. It will also be available as a podcast after that. Producer/director/writer Hilary Fennell -- herself CNBC -- explores what it means to be involuntarily childless in a child-centred society. An article about the program appeared in the Irish newspaper The Independent on Sunday.  
    • Says Jody: "Hilary would really like to make a film about childlessness too, but getting the funding for it really depends on this radio documentary proving that it's a 'worthwhile' subject that enough people are interested in. (I know, what could possibly be interesting about something that impacts 20% of women?!)"  
    • Please read, listen and share!   
  • Gateway Women's Karin Enfield deVries and Sarah Lawrence are hosting a free masterclass webinar this coming Saturday (Jan. 22nd) about "Finding Community and Connection as a Childless Woman." Use the link to find out more and register!  
  • The latest Culture Study newsletter from Anne Helen Petersen -- who is childfree by choice --  explains "Why No One Can Hear Parents Screaming." Although it's parent-centric, it's still worth a read, because it's a plea for greater empathy and understanding all round -- for moving outside our comfort zones, for spending more time and making more connections with people whose lives might not be exactly like our own.  A couple of quotes: 
    • "Part of the problem is that at this point in the pandemic, everyone is tired. Many of us are currently the least generous or thoughtful version of ourselves. But an even bigger part of the problem is a generalized lack of empathy: we struggle to make space for the experiences of anyone who is not us and/or part of our close intimate circle. I spent far less time considering the ramifications of various policies and postures on disabled people, for example, until a member of my close family became disabled. I’m not proud of this, but it’s not uncommon. Many of us don’t know about the contours of another person’s struggles and successes until we’re forced to." 
    • "I’m often asked how and why I spend so much time thinking and writing about parenthood, when I’ve chosen not to be a parent myself. The first part of that answer is that I’m angry, every day, that we’ve chosen to make our current society so hostile to parents (and mothers in particular) that the prospect of becoming one felt like willfully choosing to enter a losing war."
    • "And while I know parents are tired, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this work also requires reaching out to friends who don’t have kids, who aren’t working for pay, who don’t have a partner for whatever reason, who aren’t part of a dominant and written-about part of society and asking: what do you need right now?" [emphasis mine] 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

"The Man Who Died Twice" by Richard Osman

Having (finally!) caught up on my book club obligations for the next while, I was free to read something completely of my own choosing. "The Man Who Died Twice" by Richard Osman has been in my TBR pile since shortly after its release in late September, and I was happy to FINALLY dust it off. I woke up very early (way too early) on Monday/yesterday morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so I finally got up, took out my e-reader and started reading. I got 3/4 of the way through the book before reluctantly heading off to bed, and finished it this afternoon.  

"The Man Who Died Twice" is a sequel to one of my very favourite books from last year, "The Thursday Murder Club" (reviewed here), and picks up shortly after the last book left off, with a familiar cast of characters, and a few new ones too. I don't want to give too much away... suffice to say the plot involves an old friend of Elizabeth's (and I can only ever picture Helen Mirren when I read about Elizabeth) and 20 million British pounds' worth of stolen diamonds. 

"The Man Who Died Twice" features more of everything that I loved about "The Thursday Murder Club" -- the wonderful septuagenarian characters (all residents of Cooper's Chase, an upscale retirement village outside of London), the clever writing, the (frequent!) laugh-out-loud humour, the sharp observations (about life, death, aging, justice and so many other things), the clever plot twists & turns (and twists again)...  

Sequels don't always live up to the original. This one did. (For me, anyway.) Pure escapism, and just a whole lot of fun. Five stars on Goodreads.  

This was Book #4 read to date in 2022 (and Book #4 finished in January), bringing me to 9% of my 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 45 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 2 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2022 tagged as "2022 books."  

Monday, January 17, 2022

And I think it's gonna be a long, long time...

"Do you think he's going to cancel again?"  SIL asked me when we saw her last week. 

"He" = Elton John. You may (or may not) recall that back in the fall of 2019, I flew to Manitoba, partly to spend (Canadian) Thanksgiving with my family, and partly to go to an Elton John concert with my sister. He'd been in Toronto earlier in the year, and later that fall, it was announced he'd be in Toronto again, in late March 2020 (March 28th & 29th) at the Scotiabank Arena (formerly the Air Canada Centre) downtown. SIL said she thought she'd like to go, and asked me if I wanted to go with her, and I managed to snag us a pair of tickets for the March 29th show (at about $250 each -- gulp -- and these weren't the prime seats, either!).  

Well, you all know what happened. COVID-19 descended up on us, the pandemic was declared on March 11th, and the concert was postponed indefinitely on March 16th. By the fall, new dates were announced:  our tickets were now valid for Feb. 15, 2022 (the second of two Toronto dates, including Feb. 14th... there are also two dates in Montreal, on Feb. 18th & 19th). Okay, fine. The pandemic would be long over by then, right? 

So here we are, mid-January 2022. Feb. 14th/15th is a month away. The pandemic is as bad as/the worst it's ever been. Capacity restrictions are once again in place for public venues -- the Scotiabank Arena, which can hold about 20,000 people, is only allowed to seat 1,000 people (fully vaccinated and masked people, at that). Rather than sorting out who gets those 1,000 seats among the 20,000 who bought tickets, the Maple Leafs (hockey) and Raptors (basketball) teams have chosen to play their scheduled games in a completely empty arena. I can't imagine things are going to improve enough over the next few weeks to allow those limits to be lifted.  Between now & then, besides Leafs and Raptors games, the arena was supposed to be hosting Disney on Ice later this month, and a concert by the Offspring & Simple Plan on Feb. 8th. The ice show has been postponed to late August/early September, and the Offspring concert has been cancelled outright (and ticket money refunded).

Meanwhile, Elton's North American tour is (still) scheduled to resume on Jan. 19th in New Orleans -- two days from now. So I guess he's going ahead with it -- the U.S. dates, at least. (I know things are different there, at least in some locations, in terms of capacity limits, vaccination policies, etc.)  Toronto and Montreal are the only two Canadian dates (although he's scheduled to return to Toronto again on Sept. 7th, as well as Vancouver on Oct. 21st) -- and, if anything, the restrictions in Quebec are even stricter than they are here in Ontario. So far we haven't heard a thing about whether the concerts are going ahead, or going to be postponed (again), cancelled...??  He does have dates booked into July 2023 in Europe, so there's some scope for the Canadian dates to be rescheduled (again!). 

I'm sure this tour has gone on a LOT longer than he originally planned when he first announced it. I know he doesn't want to disappoint his fans -- but he's almost 75 years old, and he has two young sons at home that he's said he wants to spend more time with. He had hip surgery last fall while he was on hiatus from touring, and he's had numerous other health issues over the years. I'm sure he doesn't want to expose himself to undue risk.  

I'll be honest -- *I* don't want to expose myself to undue risk either. Even if (by some miracle) the shows do go ahead, I'm not really sure I want to go anymore ($250 or not) -- not until covid is long gone, or at least until case rates are way, WAY lower than they are right now. The idea of taking a packed subway downtown (a 45-minute trip -- parking around the arena is a nightmare), making our way through a crowded Union Station (the arena is next door and connected), and then sitting in a crowded arena with up to 20,000 people -- some probably (likely!) not entirely compliant with the mask mandate, and others still removing their masks from time to time to eat and drink -- simply does not appeal right now, with Omicron still running rampant -- even though I'm full vaxxed and boosted, even if I kept my N95 mask on the entire time. Unlike SIL, I, at least, have seen Elton in concert. I don't NEED to see him again. Although I'm not sure SIL is keen on going either, the way things are right now. 

I'm sure we WILL be hearing something soon, and probably sooner vs later. It's just hard to be in limbo. (But hey, isn't that what we've been doing for the past two years already?) 

#MicroblogMondays: Annoying things

  • Scanning the Old Navy website last week, and seeing multiple women's T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like "Mom," "Mama" "One tough mother," etc. (Eyeroll...)
    • Ordering some Christmas-themed pajama top shirts from their post-holiday clearance sale, getting them delivered and realizing I hit the wrong button on my favourite one, and got a size large instead of extra large. (The large fits okay, but I like the roomier extra large for their PJ tops.) 
      • Going back to the site to see whether there were any extra larges left, only to find the site had (already) been purged of all their seasonal pajamas. Better luck next year, I guess...! 
  • Getting a birthday card and (actual, handwritten!) letter from an old friend. (This is not the annoying thing, but a preamble. ;)  ) She travels a fair bit -- has a vacation home/timeshare in California, and spent two weeks over the Christmas holidays at a resort in Mexico. I had mentioned in my Christmas letter that I had hoped to spend my 60th birthday last year on the beach but, hey, pandemic -- and she exhorted me (several times over the four pages of her letter) to go, just GO!! and for two weeks, too!! I'm glad she had a good time, and that she feels comfortable travelling that far away from home during a global pandemic (and that she had no trouble getting back home again...!) -- but I don't (and dh probably even less so).  I know she meant well, but...! 
    • (I felt somewhat better/vindicated after talking to my sister and hearing about one of her work colleagues, who also headed to Mexico over Christmas, despite all the warnings, and who loved telling everyone before he left what a great deal he got. His entire family wound up getting covid there -- when they went for the necessary tests before returning to Canada, they ALL tested positive. Their rooms at the resort where they'd been staying were no longer available, and they had to scramble to find another place to stay until they could produce a clear test result. His "great deal" wound up costing him $2,000+ more than planned...!) 
    • (Additionally -- as mentioned briefly in this post -- at least two of dh's cousins as well as most of their family members, tested positive while in Florida after Christmas, and had to stay there longer than planned until they could produce the negative tests required to fly home.) 
  • Gallstone twinges after eating pizza on my birthday. Not really painful, but nothing I could ignore either. I thought maybe it was exacerbated by the cupcakes we had for dessert (red velvet, topped with copious amounts of cream cheese frosting) -- but I still got some twinges when I ate the leftover pizza the next day, without the cupcakes. I'd had pizza when we were at my parents' and didn't really feel any significant ill effects. But I hadn't had any of THIS pizza, here, since October, before my gallstone issues flared up. I guess it will be a while before I try eating it again. Sigh. 
  • A dry scaly patch (eczema?) just below my left elbow. I've been using a gentle body scrub on that area in the shower and slathering it with Aveeno afterwards. 
    • It's horribly dry in our condo unit -- lately hovering just above or (more likely) just below 30% humidity. We need to get a new humidifier -- we had one, but (annoying thing) it was so horribly noisy we got rid of it. I suppose I could order one online, but I'd like to be able to go look at them in a store -- and who wants to go shopping right now? (I've been eyeing a Dyson, which promises to be quiet and easy to maintain -- but it's horrendously expensive.)  Anyone have a favourite (quiet) brand?  
  • Not being able to find my favourite mints anywhere. Dh checked two different supermarkets and a drugstore last week for them -- no luck. (This happens occasionally... I'm sure they'll be restocked eventually... but I want them NOW!! lol) 
  • Had a call on Saturday from our dentist's office asking if (annoying thing #1) we could reschedule our appointments for Monday/today (same day, different time)... oh, and by the way, my regular hygienist has retired (annoying thing #2). We've been going to this dentist (in midtown Toronto, near our very first apartment where we lived in the mid/late 1980s) since our previous one (dh's family dentist since he was a child!) retired in 2005, and I think she's been my hygienist for most of that time (17 years!). Good for her -- but sad for me. 
    • Related annoying thing #3: Dh has never liked this dentist (although he can never really articulate why), and has been pressuring me for a while now that we need to find a new one, closer to where we now live. (Of course, we only ever see the guy for for five minutes at the end of a routine checkup -- the hygienist does most of the work -- and half the time he's not there anyway, and one of the other dentists in the practice sees us.) When we worked in the city, it was an easy trip on the subway there and back from the office, and even when we both lost our jobs, it was a straightforward trip into the city on the train and then on the subway -- but it's far less convenient now. Technically, we *could* get there on public transit, but it would be a looonnnnnng trip -- and so we drive, ALLLLLLLL the way down Yonge Street (16-17 km/10+ miles on Yonge Street alone -- the entire trip can take us 40 minutes or more, depending on traffic -- another annoying thing! lol). There are (as dh has reminded me) at least three dental offices within a few minutes' walk of our condo building. I guess maybe the time has come... but -- annoying thing #4 -- it's annoying to admit it, lol. ;)  
    • Related annoying thing #5:  Having our appointment cancelled early this morning (postponed until next week) because of a massive snowstorm overnight (that's still going on). (They called us before I could call them.)  The receptionist told me she's a 12-minute drive away from work, and it took her 45 minutes to get there this morning. Yikes! (See the photo at the bottom of this post!) 
  • In a similar vein: I recently got a letter from the Ontario breast screening program, reminding me that I am due for a mammogram in February and to call to book an appointment. I have always had my mammograms done -- for 20 years now, since I was 40 -- at the breast health clinic at one of the city hospitals downtown (the same hospital where I delivered Katie, in fact). It's a well respected facility, it was easy to get to when I worked downtown and even after I retired (and even after we moved here), I would take public transit to my appointment, and then walk or take the subway to the Eaton Centre or the Financial District, where I'd worked, to do some shopping or perhaps have lunch with some work friends. The last time I went was Feb. 21, 2020 --  just before the pandemic hit us. (I wrote about the experience one year later, here.) 
    • I've been very happy with the care I've received there -- but, needless to say, I do NOT want to be taking a 40-minute subway ride downtown -- or to be anywhere near a hospital right now, if I can help it!  So I'm going to find out whether I can get my mammogram done at a clinic somewhere closer to home instead. Just one more thing to think about (and one more thing disrupted by covid...!). 
  • Waking up at 3:30 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep. (This has been happening at least once a week lately.)  I finally got up and started reading -- first my phone, then my latest book ("The Man Who Died Twice" by Richard Osman, a sequel to last year's delightful "The Thursday Murder Club").  
What's been annoying you lately?? 

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

The view from our condo, 8:30 a.m. this morning. 
Our laneway has not been plowed yet, 
and the first car (below the balcony rail, on the left) appears to be stuck.