Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What Tinder has taught me


People love apps. People love love. People love distractions. People love immediate gratification. People love what’s next. People love getting a glimpse into the lives of others. People love attention and validation. People love hooking up. People love getting over other people quickly. People love stories. People love beauty. People love originality. People love to laugh. People love cleverness. People love to swipe.

For those fortunate enough to not know what Tinder is or had this app play a role in your life, it essentially let’s people in your area swipe left if they don’t like what they see or swipe right if they do. If you both swipe right, let the messaging begin. Since moving back to Canada in April 2014, I’ve dabbled here and there. These are my thoughts.

We live in a crazy, amazing, messed up world so Tinder fits right in. It’s absolutely a good way to kill some time, share stories with friends and the possibility of meeting cool people or more. I would say I have met just under 10 people and I never met up with anyone a second time. I’ve never even held a match’s hand! The most memorable Tinder quote I have was when I met up for lunch with a girl shortly after coming back from living in Thailand (which by the way, I miss tremendously daily) and after 20 minutes or so, she says to me “You are very uncooperative”. She really saw to my core that day my friends. She ended the date by saying “Do you not meet very many new people?” My response should have been “I actually meet tons of new people and have the best friends I could ask for so that’s how I know you won’t be one of them” but I’m not quick witted so it ended there. Another lady told me she could tell the second we met that I wasn’t interested. People are quite perceptive and I’m also terrible at pretending. And as a card in Cards Against Humanity says, Pretending to Care goes a long way.

Being a guy on Tinder is a different world that being any woman on Tinder and especially if that women is above average looking. I could easily have a swipe session and not get any matches. A female doing the same could easily rack up over a 100. So if your confidence is low and could use a little boost, a short time on Tinder might turn that around until guys start messaging you what I can only imagine are quite sexual and borderline offensive things. If your first message is Hi, you are dead in the water. If you are a guy, you need to find something interesting about that person or a clever joke. My favourite that I’ve used is “I’m 94% sure this is how my grandparents met. How did yours meet?” Gold. However, if you are a lady, you don’t need to worry about messaging first. He’ll message. They always do.

Other Tinder phenomenons include putting your height in your proflie; having 5 other people on your profile picture which makes swiping a total guessing game; guys writing "no hookups" which I find quite bold; collecting matches but not messaging or replying; being Polish and there are apparently only 4 names for women here; emojis are almost always welcome when used appropriately/inappropriately; Tinder used to be completely free but now you only get a certain amount of swipes but for over $20 a month, you can swipe forever and from different locations; there are books and dating coaches that can help people get more matches and "win" Tinder; I'd say I have lost at Tinder no doubt.

Overall, while swiping is fun and even people in relationships usually want to swipe a few pictures just to see what all of the hype is about, I generally feel that Tinder doesn’t make my life any better and usually just makes me feel slightly less good looking/fun. I’m not sure how much better looking/rich I need to appear in my profile but I feel like there are a lot of monkeys walking around in Warsaw with good looking girls and I have made zero friends outside of work. I have some work to do in that department that doesn’t involve an app but I might just take my grandparent pickup line with me. 

“Two things you will never have to chase: True friends & true love.”

There were tons of other Tinder related pictures I wanted to post but things get dirty quite quickly. If you are interested, just google Chive Tinder and get ready to be horrified. Mom, you don’t need to Google anything. Church might be the right answer. For both of us. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015


I live just outside of Warsaw, Poland. From my apartment, it takes 30 minutes by car and last night it cost me 30 PLN which is $10 Canadian by Uber. I split that with another Canadian teacher so my commute into the city and back cost me $10. That is a deal people. Poland is not expensive. I spent under $40 last night going out which included my taxi, drinks, cover, a hamburger and water. I think I will do just fine here.

I’m into Poland. I did a great job managing my expectations and it has been a pleasant surprise. My school is very clean, safe and organized. There is an American couple and 3 other Ontario teachers teaching at my school. My apartment is big enough for me, clean and a 15 minute walk to my school. I live essentially in a beautiful and potentially enchanted forest. Polish people speak more English than people in Thailand so that has been beneficial. I haven’t noticed how beautiful the women here are because I’ve been busy getting ready for school but I can only imagine that they are around and like having foreigners to gaze at. They have English movies with Polish subtitles so that is another win. Beer is everywhere and cheap. Bicycles are all the rage and buying one was on my list today but a series of poorly executed plans on my part hindered that mission being completed. 

Other things that stand out from my first week in Poland are: they love rollerblading; not as much smoking inside and drinking on the street as in Prague; Polish men seem to love drinking and fighting. I can only imagine that will turn out badly for me one night this year; Warsaw has a metro system that seems to work quite well; they actually do love vodka shots; instead of using a symbol for a man or woman for the washroom, they think that having a triangle and a circle instead clarifies things better.

I won’t get into the details of the story (nothing terrible happened) but whether living at home or abroad, if you are faced with a decision that could have potential negative repercussions, trusting your instincts is primordial. It doesn’t matter what the potential upside might be, once you start deviating from what you think/know is right, trouble will surely follow.

Overall, I feel as if the right choice was made coming to Poland. The next year will surely be an adventure and I’m excited to actually start teaching and having two classes to call my own. If you are ever in Europe, let me know and we can try and make something happen. I’m also missing my Jays hoodie so if anyone knows its whereabouts, I miss it very much. Enjoy the remainder of your summer, stay thirsty and out of the headlines.

“Trust instinct to the end, even though you can give no reason.”

Ralph Emerson

Monday, August 24, 2015

P is for Prague

Prague. What can I write in this space that hasn’t been written before? Would it surprise you if I noticed then commented on the fact that Prague has modelesque women every 7 feet in any direction? It's actually insane. It's basically the opposite of what the streets of New Zealand are like. What if I mentioned how historic, full of history and gorgeous scenery Prague possesses?

I’m afraid that growing up in an all-French speaking school has left me unable and ill-equipped to write a post that is up to a certain medieval European standard so I will shoot you straight and swiftly. This may shock some long time readers but I believe Prague to be slightly overrated. There is nothing wrong with Prague. It was my first taste of Europe and has been a solid start to a year (possibly several) on this continent. Does it have beautiful castles?

Does it not have interesting facts like The Rolling Stones paid to light up this magnificent castle because the Czech government couldn’t afford it? Or that they have a rich history of throwing people out of their windows? Sure but every country does that. One of my main beefs with Prague is how much smoking is allowed in restaurants and bars. Those 5 days have taken at least that many days off of my life. #thanksPrague.

I also got lost every day I was there. It lost its novelty on day 4. It’s not that tough of a place to navigate but there is something about the place that just doesn’t make me love it or want to come back to it. 2 days would be enough, 3 if you are feeling like you have an abundance of time to waste. Prague is the first place I took part on a free walking tour and that was decent. Those guides know what’s up and he gave away 5 free beer for answering trivia questions (of course I won one). Other moderately good things about Prague is there number of casinos, beer at Burger King, number of pub crawls, affordable living and I met some cool people at the hostel I was staying at which made the trip worth it. I stayed here for $25 a night.

My flight from Toronto to Montreal to Prague was a breeze. Was the only person in a row of three on the way to Montreal then the plane stopped to pick up passengers so people had to change seats; not the most efficient system. My ticket said middle seat so I  analyzed the situation: a man and his wife and an empty middle seat. Wasn’t too eager to jump into that situation so waited until more passengers came aboard in hopes that an aisle seat would open up. Slowly the airplane fills up with nobody sitting in my original row. I casually sit down, buckle up and just as we are about to take flight, a French guy sits in the other aisle destroying my newest dream of flying to Europe in my own private aisle but those are the breaks sometimes. Update on Warsaw next.  

This is just another reason why The Rolling Stones are better than the Beatles. The Beatles never lit shit.” 
Tour Guide

Monday, August 3, 2015

Harder than last time

I can already feel it. It seems like I am constantly looking at my calendar in disbelief that I will be in Europe in 14 days. I can remember feeling somewhat indifferent about taking off for the first time four years ago with little expectation and the possibility of returning home in a month if things went south quickly. I now have a better grasp of what moving an ocean away entails and is making me more nervous and melancholy. I’ve loved these last 15 months and there is a part of me that feels like I might be making a mistake. Not a mistake of the country (who doesn’t love Poland??!!) or my school but there is something to be said about staying in one place, planting roots and keeping current friendships alive and strong. It’s normal to question yourself, your choices and your path right? I’m not the only one? I understand that in the grand scheme of things I’m still fairly young but 29 turns into 30 then that becomes 35 then I’m 40. Then what? I’ve also possibly made the mistake of not having a family sooner because the earlier you start, the more time you how with those monsters you have created. But I can’t just marry anyone and have a baby with them right? I feel confused and uncertain that I’m maximizing my life. It’s clear that I’m not a financial success at this point; I’m not divorced so I have that going for me. I also believe that once I’m roaming the streets of Prague on the 19th, I will think that I made the right life choice or once I stop working at my current job that isn’t exactly A1, I will feel better about my direction in life.

Moving away isn’t a minor life choice and thinking it through and wondering about different paths has to be a normal train of thought. The worst case scenario is that I don’t love my job or Poland and it is over in 10 months. The best case scenario is that Poland and my school is amazing, I see most of the things I have on my list and I find an amazing two year contract that pays me well and gives me great teaching experience. My reality will probably fall somewhere in the middle of those two options. I hope this doesn’t seem like I’m mad, sad or ungrateful, I know big changes are ahead and I’m just slightly anxious about going at it alone again.

In other events, I got a text a 2am Friday asking if I wanted a free weekend wristband to Veld. Veld is a massive electronic dance music festival with 30 thousand people, dancing and DJ’s. Here is what last year looked like:

A wristband for the weekend is around $300 plus drinks, food and people getting after it once it shuts down around 11pm. I’ve been to festivals and concerts before but this was my first EDM festival and even though it isn’t my go-to genre of music, it sounds incredible with their sound systems and it’s in an open field essentially so there is some room for a bit of personal space. Unless you are right up in the thick of it, then there’s no room. My big takeaways from Veld were:
-It got cancelled Sunday night because of thunderstorms in the area which ended up passing through but they do take safety seriously which I suppose is a good thing but people weren’t happy. I wasn’t happy and didn’t pay 300. I can imagine how people who actually looked forward to this all year felt. They also delayed it for two hours on the Saturday because of some mild clouds. Kinda lame.

-People love partying and just going for it. People, especially girls, treat these festivals like Halloween so there were some provocatively dressed women at this event. People love dressing up and escaping reality.

-Waster was $5-10. Food and other drinks not cheap either. I’m not sure how teenagers can afford it. I can’t.

-EDM is synonymous with drugs because a good percentage of people at these events are high on drugs. It can’t be safe or healthy. They do have security that does a decent job but what they aren’t showing you on the after party video is people tripping out in a field, people in an ambulance or being arrested for selling drugs to kids. Funny how that didn’t make the final cut. 

-Two people died last year.  Zero this year as far as I know. People shouldn't die at festivals. 

-While yes, some people indulge a bit too much, there isn’t much or any violence and there is generally a great vibe of people dancing and having a great time being outside and enjoying life. Not every day is a music video but might as well make it count when given the opportunity.

If you just had a long weekend, I hope it was a fun and safe one. Let’s stay in touch and maximize the rest of our summertime.

“In these times I don't, in a manner of speaking, know what

I want; perhaps I don't want what I know and want what I 

don't know.” 

Marsilio Ficino

Friday, July 3, 2015

Responsibility? I don't understand

I would rank the level of responsibility in my life about a 2 out of ten. I don’t have a house, car, kids, a wife or even a pet lobster to take care of.  These facts suit me just fine. I embrace my teenage level of responsibility. This enables me to make every decision based on how it will enhance my life and not take into account anyone else’s feelings or desires. It’s a life that I’ve designed not particularly on purpose to be Bert centred and focused.

There are 18 year old's in this world who have a very adorable little boy or girl at home, work full-time, live in a one bedroom apartment without their family around to support them and make choices not on how much fun they can possibly have but what is best for their child’s short and long term safety and happiness. Their responsibility level hovers right around that 9 level. Just because someone has a higher level, doesn’t mean that their life is considerably harder or better but is in part a reflection of the choices that person has made along with their priorities. We are as responsible as our life situation forces us to be.

Some people desire and crave responsibility. Having a job with a great deal of responsibility usually means getting paid commensurately. A person who is in charge of people and a payroll will be paid higher than the parking lot attendant who only needs to worry about people not practising how to make a baby in his parking lot. Sometimes, responsibility comes gradually. Moving away to school, getting a girlfriend, full-time job, house, pet rooster, wife and so on. Other times, it is more sudden like being left to take care of a child after they are left to you in your best friends will or having to take care of a parent who is sick and forgetful. (Mom, don’t get sick. I’m busy) While I shy away from all forms of responsibility such as making long or short term plans or owning anything that will keep me tied to one place, if a random event forced me to think of another person first or be less selfish, I’m (pretty) sure I would be able to do it. You just adjust and make a new plan. 

We as humans adapt to new realities quickly. Things aren’t as bad as we imagine it to be in our brains. While I currently am in love with my no responsibility life (example: One of my biggest responsibilities is changing the dehumidifier water in my room that I live in for free, in my brother’s basement; I think I’m getting better at it) once I fall in love (which I’m not even excited for) and get married, I will welcome responsibility. House? Sure! Car? Why not a min-van? Pets? Sure! Let’s make this place a zoo! Going from a 2 to a 7 is a drastic change but once you already have some responsibility, what’s one more person living in your house or baseball team to coach?

I would like to hear what you think your responsibility level is, if you think lower or higher leads to more happiness and how you manage the stress, if any, of having an increasing load of responsibility in your daily life. I have a three day weekend coming up and honestly have nothing pressing that needs to be accomplished. I do have to get a chest x-ray done for Poland and help someone move for about an hour but that about sums it up. Let me know if you have a more adult weekend in the works. I love you all very much. 

"The price of greatness is responsibility." Winston Churchill 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

No more school and a new niece!

First of all, my brother and his wife had a new baby yesterday so I’m an uncle for the 9th time! Her name is Eliane and I love her already! I’m heading to Toronto for Easter so I won’t have to wait more than a year to see this one! Life is good everyone.

I just finished my last assignments on Thursday and now I start my final practicum tomorrow in Kanata teaching a 4/5 class. I’m teaching them fractions, rocks and minerals and spelling strategies. Last practicum I mainly taught subtraction and a few other lessons but by the end of this practicum I should be teaching close to a 100% which is a little intimidating but apparently I’ve been preparing for this for the last 8 months so I should rock it. My main goal for tomorrow is remember all of their names then go from there. I have a friend from my section who is placed at the same school so that should make the transition a little easier and more fun. After April 24th, I will be a certified teacher (hopefully) and free to explore the globe at my leisure. I was recently offered a job teaching in Kuwait on a one year contract but I thought it over a few nights and it just didn’t seem 100% right in my heart. I feel like once you start making decisions solely based on money and you know deep down isn’t the right choice for you, is when your life starts to veer off course. I’m good at making important life changing decisions because you just need to trust yourself completely that you are making the right choice for your life at that moment. Not believing in yourself and your decision making process is a huge disadvantage. It helps having reasonable friends and family to bounce ideas off of but somewhere deep down you know the path you should follow so I’m just trying to listen to that. My current game plan is to apply to international schools in Japan and hope for the best. It’s been my dream since 2009 and I believe I would fall in love with Japan instantly. I have experience, will be a certified teacher and think I’m going to be an amazing teacher so I’m trying to be picky with what school I decide to spend the next two years working for. It’s kind of like dating. You are looking for the right fit for both parties and there are plenty of opportunities out there, you just need to search, put your best foot forward and it will all be okay.

 In other events, let me just say that this last year has flown by. I can’t believe that I’ve been home almost 12 months, about to finish school and jump into whatever is coming next. School certainly surpassed my expectations (because we all know not to have any…), I’ve met genuinely great people who will hopefully let me stay in their lives for the years to come and I learned how to be a better teacher. Yes, there is a ton of group work and some of it wasn’t the most engaging but for the most part, learning how to be a teacher is a tough thing to teach and I think Ottawa U does a good job all things considered.
Now spring creeps into our future with the promise of a hot and flip flop filled summer. No more shoveling, boots or brushing off the car is only days or weeks away. March Madness is a welcomed source of entertainment along with sugar shacks and maple syrup! Enjoy life everyone!!! That’s probably enough for today, I should have a few more posts upcoming about new jobs and unwanted life advice; I have a lunch to make!

“Do your own thing on your own terms and get what you came here for.”
-Oliver James

“Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck.”
-Joss Whedon