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Month: April 2016

Saying Goodbye to Audrey

I went to a going away party for Audrey yesterday, and it was really upsetting, because I was wearing this spectacular spring coat, and no one complimented me on it.

The event took place outside, and it was chilly out, so I was able to button up the coat to show off it’s asymmetrical closure. Still nothing.

I talked to seven people, in depth. I also talked to Audrey, of course. Not one single, “Hey, by the way, where did you get that stunning coat?”

I even threw out a whole, “Oh I’m so sorry I spilled cranberry juice on your shoes – they are so lovely! Where did you get those!?” to open a fashion discussion, but no takers.

I asked Kelli if her coat was from JCrew, she said no, but the conversation about coats ended there, and she somehow managed to shift discussion to Japan right after that. My coat isn’t from Japan, so that was annoying.

Jim just wanted to talk about the art of role playing and listening for professional development. During some parts of the conversation, I waved my hands around, to demonstrate how easy it was to move in the coat. Obviously that wasn’t the context I gave him, but he should have been able to pick that up from the conversation as well. Guess Jim isn’t as observant of people’s behavior as he thinks.

Andy told me about his family’s interest in tennis, because he heard I was a tennis player. That was a clear opening. He could have said, “Under that beautiful coat, I bet you have incredible muscle definition.” I would have said, “Yes, it is a beautiful coat, good eye, Andy.” But he didn’t say that. He shifted the conversation to baseball. I can’t really wear the coat to a baseball game, so that didn’t help. At all.

Tony and some other guy debated improv etiquette and finding “the game” during a practice session. They were lamenting players who derail scenes. I couldn’t jump in about my coat during that discussion, of course.

The bartender looked super disinterested in everything, and he was a smoker, so I didn’t want to stand around him long enough for him to compliment me on my coat anyway.

The second bartender should have noticed my coat though.  Not cool.

Anyway, I think Audrey had a good time.

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The other day I thought, “What if this site is a lot more popular than I originally thought? We might be a sensation, and I don’t even know!”

So I added an analytics plug-in to tell me. Here are our stats for the past month.

Site Traffic
Site Traffic

Those jumps in page views every couple of weeks are from 0 to 1. The Y Axis scale does not go past 1, because it does not need to.

And I’m pretty certain that “1” is me.

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Bachelor Party in Montreal: Weekend Itinerary

Montreal offers several, shall I say, cultural advantages, that make it an ideal destination for a bachelor party. Here is an itinerary that will help men make the most of one final, wild weekend celebrating their buddy’s foray into a lifetime of spiritual and physical monogamy.

Friday 6pm: Arrive at the hotel

Relaxing at the hotel
Relax Friday night because you’re in for an incredible weekend.

Since everyone will likely be arriving from different destinations, use Friday evening as an opportunity to check in to the hotel and regroup. Draw a nice bubble bath to cleanse yourself before a weekend of absolute debauchery. If two of you are sharing a room, sit on opposites sides of the bath tub to avoid awkwardness.
After that, get some rest. You need to be bright-eyed and bushy tailed for Saturday morning, if you catch my drift.

Hotel Gault
449 Rue Sainte-Hélène
Montréal, QC H2Y 2K9, Canada

Must appreciate: Relaxing in Old Montreal, a picturesque town that makes you feel like you’re in Paris.

Olive and Gourmando
The pastry offering at Olive and Gourmando, where you start the day.

Saturday 9am: Morning Libation
Get the groom pumped for the day by starting with a savory cappuccino or fresh brewed tea at Olive et Gourmando. This friendly restaurant offers incredible pastries and artisan coffee that is likely to stimulate all your senses.

Olive et Gourmando
351 Rue Saint Paul O
Montréal, QC H2Y 2A7, Canada

Must try: The granola – pick up some to nibble on throughout the day to keep the energy up as well. Make the best man carry the granola bag. It’s his duty.

Saturday 11:15am: Karaoke
It’s time to go hard, and karaoke at 11:15 on a Saturday morning is the best way to get everyone to loosen up. Belt out your favorite tunes at Club Date Piano Bar in Montreal’s Le Village.

Club Date Piano Bar
1218 Rue Sainte-Catherine E
Montréal, QC H2L 2G9, Canada

Must sing: Anything by Prince.

Saturday 2pm: Bagel Tasting

What better conversation than to explore subtle nuances between bagels? Pictured here, bagel with lox.

Montreal has awesome wood-fire baked bagels. It’s time for you and the boys to debate which is your favorite. Start with St. Viateur Bagel and Café. Pay careful attention to the bagel texture and flavor, because you’ll want to remember it 30 minutes later when you walk over to La Maison de L’Original Fairmount Bagel, a more casual bagel counter.

Bagel Stop 1
St. Viateur Bagel and Café
1127 Avenue du Mont-Royal E,
Montréal, QC H2J 1X9, Canada

Bagel Stop 2
La Maison de l’Original Fairmount Bagel
74 Avenue Fairmount O
Montréal, QC H2T 2M1, Canada

Must try: The Rosemary and Sea Salt flavor!

Saturday 3:30pm: Le Musee du costume et du textile du Quebec
Le Musée du costume et du textile du Québec vit une importante métamorphose en devenant le Musée de la mode. Cette nouvelle identité, plus en accord avec sa mission, contribue à rassembler les principaux acteurs du secteur de la mode à Montréal autour de ce lieu unique, créatif et évolutif.

Musée du costume et du textile du Québec
363, rue de la commune Est
Montréal, QC H2Y 1J3, Canada

Saturday 5:30pm: Sunset Hike up Le Mont Royal Et Ses Alentours

Journaling time
Climb to the top to see this view.

Time to walk off those bagel calories! Montreal has a beautiful replica of Central Park where all the local teenagers – all of them – gather on 4/20 to celebrate Bob Marley. Luckily that was on Wednesday this year, and today is Saturday, so the smoke has cleared and you can stroll to the peak of the park and sit down.

At this point, the best man should share his big surprise for the weekend: Commemorative monogrammed notebooks for journaling! Bask in the beautiful glow of introspection as you all jot down thoughts in this moment of quiet perfection.

Must try: Writing poetry. No one will judge you today.


Saturday 8pm: Dinner at Joe Beef

Sit back and let your tongue do the thinking as you take in the savory flavors.
Sit back and let your tongue do the thinking as you take in the savory flavors at Joe Beef.

Joe Beef is that expensive hole-in-the-wall restaurant you have been desperately seeking to complete this perfect Saturday in Montreal. The drinks are on point, the service is fun, and the food is delicious. Get two desserts: it’s a weekend celebration.

Joe Beef
2491 Rue Notre-Dame O
Montréal, QC H3J 1N6, Canada

Must try: The foie gras.

Saturday 11pm: Bed Time
This isn’t your ordinary bed time. This is Montreal bedtime. All the men on the trip should tuck in the lucky bachelor. Read journal entries from earlier in the day as he drifts off into the most peaceful slumber.

Must try: A tall glass of water to avoid dehydration.

Sunday 11am: The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
Start Sunday off right with a Catholic Mass at the Notre-Dame Basilica, built in the 1800s! You might be thinking, “We’re not all Catholic.” That’s okay, you’re there for the organ that was built in 1891 by the renowned Casavant brothers of Saint-Hyacinthe. The organ has 4 keyboards, 99 stops, and approximately 7,000 pipes. 7,000 PIPES.

There is a 9:30am Mass too, but you need to catch the 11am one because you can hear the organ and the choir. The choir is only at the 11am mass.

Notre-Dame Basilica
110 Notre-Dame Street West
Montreal, QC H2Y 1T1, Canada

7000 pipes. 7000 PIPES. You can't even see them all.
7000 pipes. 7000 PIPES. You can’t even see them all.

Must appreciate: The sanctuary and the altar.

Sunday 1:30pm: Poster Shopping

Posters are beautiful expressions of art. Venture to Montreal’s favorite poster store to peruse and select a poster that you will all share, forever, a la sisterhood of the travelling pants. Prices range from $100 to thousands of dollars. The bachelor gets the poster first, but two months after the wedding he should give it to the best man, then the best man should send it to the most Asian guy, etc.

71 Rue Saint-François-Xavier
Montréal, QC H2Y 2T1, Canada

Must appreciate: Something from the year 2013

Sunday 4pm: Group cab ride to the airport

You have to take a cab, because Uber is forbidden in Montreal. Sort of. Uber operates in Montreal, but they’re not supposed to be operating there. Either way, this ride is a bittersweet one, because it’s the beginning of the end of the most magical weekend you’ve had in a long time.

Cab ride pro-tip: Speak to your driver in French – it’ll be the last chance you have to practice the language. Airport personnel have no patience for your bumbling display of high school French class mediocrity.

Sunday 7pm: Eat smoked meat sandwich at the airport

In addition to stellar bagels and rock star granola, Montreal offers delicious cured meats. Pick up a fresh sandwich at the airport and be floored by your best airport dinner ever. As you take a bite out of your sandwich, turn to your fellas, and nod. They’ll understand.


Smoked meat is the thing to get in Montreal. Delic!
Smoked meat is the thing to get in Montreal. Delic!
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Welcome to our Second Reader!

Hello! This is a big day! We might* have a second site visitor today! It’s Kim! I won’t put her last name here, but she’s a formidable athlete, a loving mother, a veteran, a giving wife, a talented photographer, and she recently picked up acting credits!

Welcome Kim! Thank you for visiting!

This is a big day. I’ve already notified my site hosting provider that traffic is doubled now.

*We might have a second site visitor because she asked for the link. I don’t know if she’ll actually visit, but I thought it would be good to post a welcome message, just in case. Jennie, if you’re reading this, don’t worry, you’re still our first fan.

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Marriage Anniversary

David and I married five years ago.

If you were to ask me, “What the biggest difference in your relationship between then and now?” I would thoughtfully reply, “In 2011, I was winning all of my tennis matches against David. In 2016, I haven’t even won a set.”

Then you might say, “Haha, would you have it any other way?”

And I would say, “Yes, obviously. If it were up to me, I’d still be winning.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go practice.

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For some reason, this template center aligns the last line of every post. It’s a style thing, and it puts a lot of pressure on me to write the perfect last line.

Can I change the template? I don’t know.
Should I change it? Probably.
Will I change it? No. I will accept the challenge of writing compelling final sentences.

Perhaps computers have already won.

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Book Club: Origins

Our book club started innocently enough. David, Helen, Ryan and I all agreed we should read Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker, in light of the financial crisis. Well, David, Ryan and I agreed we should read it. Helen displayed her usual disdain for anything not related to food or pole dancing.

“You’re going to read it too, Helen,” I calmly explained in response to her protests, “because you are part of the book club.” In that moment, the moment I declared those words, our little book club was born. “Let’s gather on April 29 and discuss the book,” I said. Everyone agreed.

April 29 rolled around, and Helen and Ryan didn’t read the book. I was livid. You can’t have a book club where 50% of the club does not read the book. And there was no punishment for their actions. No penance to be paid. They simply did not read the book, and nothing happened. They didn’t even seem remorseful.

If one person does not do something, that’s one person. But when half of the group gets it wrong, there’s a systemic issue. I was to blame for the failed first meeting.

I regrouped. I took a minute. I remembered that William Shakespeare said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” As I thought very hard about the state and future of the book club, I became increasingly determined to thrust greatness upon my book club.

Through a series of steps, I knew I could mold the book club into a literary force that would inspire writers to write, non-readers to read, and the thoughtful to speak.

Here is what I did.

Step 1, I kicked Helen out of the book club. I would have kicked Ryan out too, but then it would just be David and me, and that’s not a book club. That’s a couple reading the same book.

Step 2, I bragged about my book club to friends. This was easy. I’m a natural braggart. The key here was to compel them to ask to join the book club. I can’t force someone to read a book, as Helen taught me, but I can make someone want to be part of something great. That’s what our book club was: respite from the real world, a refuge for the 24 hour news cycle that clutters the mind, a free nose-dive into literature. The conversation would typically go like this,

“Hi! I have a book club meeting tonight. I’m so excited.”
“You’re in a book club?”
“Yes, it’s pretty exclusive.”
“Can I join?”
“Who runs your book club?”
“It’s very democratic. Listen, I think you can join, but you should know, we have a rule.”
“What is it?”
“At the end of every meeting, we vote someone out of the book club.”

That brings us to Step 3 on our climb to book club greatness. I instituted a rule that requires people be voted off the book club. This rule ensured that only people confident in their ability to thrive in a book club would join. The indolent need not apply.

Through these simple steps, I was able to gather 10 sharp minds around one book once every two months. The voting rule also made it possible for me to kick out any members that were holding us back. The book club flourished in 2015.

It was incredible. During one meeting: a member contacted the author of The Morels. He joined us via skype to talk about his book. We read fantasy, science fiction, non-fiction, mystery, British literature, and works from the canon. We laughed over plot twists. We argued over writing style. We challenged gender bias. We grappled with perspective. By day, we were project managers, developers, architects. By night, once every two months, we were reading wizards, casting a spell of discourse through the room that enchanted the mind.

Admittedly, not everything was perfect during these times. Voting a member off after every meeting did have a dark side. Because there were no guidelines around why a person was voted off, new members occasionally presented desperate comments. One time, Drew revealed he didn’t know a character was paralyzed throughout the book. I wanted to paralyze him! How could he make such a gaffe in our book club that would force us to vote him off?! I liked Drew as a person, but as a book club member, he just couldn’t cut it. Another time, Jennie listened to the audio book. Also, I accidently left Alex off of a scheduling email. I couldn’t reveal my administrative blunder, so I just acted as though Alex had been voted off of the book club. This trick was easy to pull off, because I was the only one to count the votes.

And I wasn’t really counting. I was just kicking members out as I saw fit. I couldn’t trust the group to make the right decisions. Trusting people had steered me wrong in the early book club days; I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.

In 2016, I’ve decided to further improve the book club. It was time to send members constructive feedback. Everybody loves feedback.

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