…when you’re wearing a college-branded hoodie. At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten the last couple of days. The weather has turned cold enough that I need the extra layer beyond just a t–shirt1, and the pair of coats that I kept from last winter are ridiculously large now2. My poor caffeine molecule sweatshirt has been worn so much that between it’s extra large size and the wear on the fabric, I feel like a local hoodrat wearing the thing, and I can only fathom what others must think I look like3. The two that fit better are my NDSU sweatshirt from my undergrad years, and the UB sweatshirt my doctoral mentor gave me as a going away gift4. So, that’s been my cold weather apparel the past couple of days. Been some subtle yet interesting changes in interactions with people in public and on the TTC during that time. This weekend is going to necessitate coat shopping; I’m holding out that a 1/2– or 3/4–length wool coat will look reasonably good on me. If not, I’m going to be struggling for ideas on what to get for a new coat!

Paying more attention on the commute the past couple days to/from work, I realize I’m extremely antsy to go check out some more coffee locations on College St. The Little Italy neighborhood on College has a small plethora of coffeehouses, of which I know at least Lit Espresso Bar was fairly good (for cappuccino at least). Their cappuccino was at least better than the ones at my usual Sunday productivity haunt (Noir Coffee & Tea, although they make a slightly crack–laden mochaccino), but neither location has matched the richness of de Mello Palheta up north of Yonge & Eglinton. I would love to frequent them more often, but it’s about as far from my place to de Mello, as it is to the University of Toronto. Little Italy is serendipitously (relatively) close to the University and on the route home, if I’m riding the TTC. I really need to just take some evenings to leave work a little early to finish my data processing/writing/whatever–other–computer–work I need to do and check them all out. The Green Grind looks cozy & vibrant for a relaxing atmosphere; I’ve seen good reviews for The Brockton Haunt; Voodoo Child sounds it should be right up my alley taste–wise; Manic Coffee would be perfect for a late evening stay, having a smooth cappuccino while I’m working & treat myself to gelato when I’m done before leaving. This small list is only the places I’ve heard of or looked up so far; there are certainly more, as I haven’t paid nearly as much attention to the south side of College St when I’m riding or walking through it!

I really had more to say, but it’s since evacuated my brain into regions undiscovered. Or that could be the ibuprofen PM kicking in; my back tension has been ridiculous the past week, and it’s to the point I’m starting to take ibuprofen to help deal with the pain of the tension in my trapezius or rhomboid; I’m not entirely sure which it is. Regardless, I need to get an appointment setup to get this examined; stretching & relaxation don’t seem to be helping it. Next up on home remedies will be digging out my heating pad, and laying infirm upon it to attempt to relax the muscle(s) at fault.

However, in the interim, I can’t wait to bathe my tongue is some rich & bold coffee–derived concoctions this week. Well, mostly just tomorrow, if at all this week. Thursday’s free time is being eaten up by a free Midori concert being put on by the U of T Faculty of Music over the lunch break5, and another free concert being put on by the jazz orchestra in the evening6. Friday is the departmental social at the end of the work day, so being inebriated only reinforces wanting to be inebriated; there’s no easy transition from there to coffee, not at that hour of the evening. So, Wednesday it is, lest I wish to wait until next week to get started!

1This usually happens when the temperature finally dips below 50˚F (10˚C) when the sun isn’t out or the wind is really blowing.
2They were just a smidgen on the roomier side last winter, you know, before I lost a quarter of my body weight…
3The waist of the sweatshirt almost hangs past the crotch of my jeans, and the sleeves reach the knuckles of my fingers when my arms are extended. Clearly, not fashionable attire, despite my love of the geeky caffeine molecule structure.
4He has done it for every graduate student he’s graduated, because we apparently all never think to get a UB sweatshirt during our time there (priorities, clearly).
5Yay free music!
6Yay more free music!

It’s interesting how interactions can be so polite or cold in this city at a given time. My neighbourhood is almost consistently cold in nature, but I keep feeling that’s a consequence of me looking more so the foreigner than the native1. However, I continue to run into random warm encounters that are a bit surprising in nature.

The Sunday morning crew at The Stockyards is amazing. A couple rowdy women in their 40s, often the owner, and a couple of younger cooks that do their work just right. It’s great to listen to them just interact with the regular patrons (both dining–in and to–go), ’cause they just love to catch up with their regulars. Even I got dragged into some conversation as they wanted to know what I did for the (Canadian) Thanksgiving holiday!

Which is hilarious every time I mention I go to Buffalo.

Other: “Oh, do you go visit your family there?”
Me: “No, my family lives in North Dakota.”
Other: <insert confused/dumbfounded look as they either (a) try to figure out where North Dakota is, or (b) figure out why the hell I would be visiting Buffalo if I didn’t have family there>

It really makes me believe the effect it has of some people never moving out of the greater Toronto area. They don’t know what it’s like to move 250–300 miles away for college, or another thousand miles away for graduate school, and throw in another hundred or two for your next job. Transplantation isn’t so easy; it’s convenient to have your support network close enough for weekend visits. It was a luxury I did not have moving to Buffalo, nor much of one moving to Fargo. I’d hazard, people just don’t often think about it…

Anyhoo. Back to the weather changes. I would have expected a warmer reception from the (professional, supposedly) academics I have met to date. Thankfully, one I did, but she’s off & gone in Oman now2. I did emo–whine a bit earlier about the grad student colleagues in my department, but again, that’s a tight–knit social circle that is pretty self–stable. I’ve had the chance to reach out to a couple other postdocs so far, but those communications seem to be…evaporating, perhaps? I’m not sure. We’re all whipped workhorses to our own specific projects, but how on earth do you coordinate time to spend with them amidst all that, let alone any social circles they already have? So, there are the colder ones so far.

Last weekend, I got an amazingly warm response from a café shop owner. I inquired about what music was playing over the speaker system & let me snap a picture of the info off his iPod. Ten or fifteen minutes later, he asked if I had a flash drive with which to provide some of said artist to me with. I was momentarily floored; far above & beyond what I would have expected of a stranger, especially when he returned the flash drive nearly full! Listening to some pretty awesome contemporary classical music as we speak right now!

Lastly, this evening, I took it upon myself to inform a stranger about when the next streetcar was coming down College St, as I was leaving work. She kept checking the street profusely (a couple times a minute), while I coolly waited because I knew the streetcar was down at Yonge & College still3. I politely informed her that one was coming only a block and change away, with two more in quick succession behind it. I seem to have weirded her out a bit over the random remark, but she was thankful for the information. I mentioned the follow–up cars because she had a loaded rolling luggage piece with her, and any (competent) TTC rider knows that at that time of the post–workday hours, the first eastbound College streetcar after an extended lack is going to be one packed sardine unit! Anyways, first of the three shows up, I can already see that the car appears to be a nebulous, black entity traveling down the street, indicative that the plethora & density of standing patrons — blocking out all interior lights of the streetcar to the outside —has utterly filled the streetcar. She hesitated, and decided to wait out the next car, as I already said I would (I’m not that impatient to get home). I show her the app, and demonstrate how it shows the next two streetcars in tow: one at University & College already, with the other at Bay & College. She inquires where I got the app, I relate how she can track it down for her own phone (an Android, alas, not iOS like my own), and she looks to be genuinely happy with that extra piece of knowledge for the day. The next streetcar comes down College nearly a minute or two later, and it looks virtually empty! Alas, it is only bound for Bathurst, so I’m stuck awaiting the final car, while she enjoys her near–vacant streetcar. I figured in a city as dependent on transit at Toronto is, more of the regular patrons would be aware of/informed about such smartphone utilities to aid their travels. Heck, it even surprised a young man while I was waiting for the 47B Bus at College & Lansdowne; he was surprised with how accurately I predicted its arrival, after I asked if he was heading north (he kept inspecting TTC signage near the stop). Perhaps not! Mayhaps I need to disseminate my unnatural technical prowess more unto others…it might make a nice opening conversation piece, and who knows, maybe even get a regular conversation partner for my winter rides on the TTC!

1With a neighbourhood that is predominantly Italian & Portuguese, I lack the Hispanic good looks that my mother’s side of the family has, and lack the language skills to partake in the mostly non–English conversations in my ‘hood.
2Thanks, Meezan! Way to leave me hanging, once I found a friend! But no, really, not her fault; awesome woman who has a crazy wordly knowledge & experiences behind her…
3The Transit app from the iTunes App Store has probably got to be one of the most useful city transit apps I have ever had the pleasure of using! It shows (nearly) all the surface–exposed transit vehicles locations as their GPS reports them in to their respective server systems. Granted, some surprise additions/reliefs to the routes don’t always show up in the app, as I learned tonight when I got off the 47 bus at St. Clair and didn’t realize the 47B was right behind, which I could have transferred onto, as opposed to walking the final 1–mile of my trip home, uphill in the rain…

So hovering around the 190–lbs mark on the scale, this was my first “major” endpoint for the weight I wanted to lose. I told myself that 190 was the primary goal, and I’d slowly settle myself into 180 if it was at all possible. Primarily, the sub–190 range was for whatever reshaping/toning I was hoping to achieve. Despite the inches I’ve lost, not everything has pulled back in with.

Stopping in at Old Navy over the holiday weekend, I picked up a few more garments (and a belt) in more appropriately fitting sizes1. “Regular fit” jeans feel like skinny jeans, I swear. My thighs squeeze into the blasted things snug, the waist fits fine, and there’s tons of room beyond my quad/hamstring muscles from the knee down. I don’t want to always have to wear loose jeans, but I really don’t think my cycling thighs are going to permit it if I keep pushing my legs the way I do. Not sure how to address that issue at the present. Anyhoo. I picked up a pair of jeans after checking whether I fit into a 34″ or 32″ waist. I was shocked to find I’m already able to fit into the 32s. That, and medium shirts are a tisch snug, but a way better fit than larges are right now, so I stocked up on those. And I used to primarily wear size large in high school. Basically, with a little slop in clothing sizes, I am (or will be) wearing the same sizes I was in high school. I think that was ultimately my final goal for this whole weight loss thing.

So, with 190 being a rough guage, and a possible hope for 180, the weight loss plan now changes direction: tone. My triceps hang a bit. My love handles and belly need slimming (so sad that the stretch marks probably will not disappear). My inner thighs could use to lose the excess (bleagh). It’s interesting to see what’s left in the aftermath (of sorts). I’ll be more interested to see what’s left in the end. I need to do my pushups & ab work daily in the mornings again. So tough to do as it’s getting colder (on cold ceramic tiles) in the mornings. Also need to try to do my squats in the evening daily if I can, but at least 2–3 times a week. Beyond that, I need to finally get some dumbbells to more conveniently deal with other regions.

It’s weird to think that I am already this close to the final goal. However, I need to take that with a grain of salt: this is the toughest part, too. Losing the weight was the easy part. Having the patience & persistence to get the rest of this cleaned up (and a lifestyle to maintain it) is going to be the real challenge…

1Jeans are getting loose again, large shirts are a bit on the baggy side, and I am at the innermost hole on my belt that originally didn’t fit when I started this adventure.

10. October 2013 · Write a comment · Categories: Techie · Tags:

I no longer live in Buffalo.

I am no longer a graduate student.

I have a derelict About page.

I have a terrible & dated homepage.

This is utterly uncalled for. Especially now that I’ve got a slick(er than Dreamweaver) coding app that feeds my itch for hardcoding stuff! Look for a legitimate website overhaul soon. Until then, I really should direct my homepage traffic over to my About.me profile (about.me/himay

Have I mentioned that Panic makes some fantastic & elegant Mac OS X software? No? Well. You really should go check them out…

I may gripe about a lack of a social circle here in Toronto, but the good friends I do still have in Buffalo, NY, and Fargo, ND, only reinforce how awesome some of them are. Friends are the people you spend time & laughs with, wasting away the days with bliss, introspect, silliness, and consolation. Good friends are the ones who will put you back in your place, lest you stray too far beyond or short of your means.

A friend to remind me what shape the currency of my self–worth is really in: greatly depreciated. My self–image shouldn’t be short–changed for what it is; it’s worth more than I realize, and I need to accept & live with that. Realize it’s worth; accept that I’m really worth that; and most importantly, don’t let anyone haggle me down on it!

A friend to remind me where I can always find support:

“Just remember Buffalo still loves you.”

I have such a supportive network back there (Fargo & Minneapolis included), it’s not even funny. I wish I could find the time & energy to visit more often, but I’m torn between intriguing experiments & difficult assays, establishing myself more & more in Toronto (as I’ve got over two & a half years left to go), or taking the short’ish albeit sometimes cumbersome drive back down to Buffalo. Way shorter a trek than I ever took during my undergraduate years, although at that point I was trying to get away from my family back then. Regardless, Buffalo easily has some friends for life back there, so I can at least never feel too lonely!

A friend(s) to polish me up & realize what I’m worth. Some constructive & flattering criticisms illustrated points that I would have never openly recognized on my own, to dispel the delusions I had keeping myself down. It’s easy to be stuck laying on the floor, thinking you’ll never be anywhere above that, until some others catch you in the midst of it & are confused why you were even there in the first place. They offer that hand to help pick you up, dust you off, and remind you of where you belong in the grand scheme of things. I’m still in awe that I am kept in such esteem & regard. Thank you! It has done wonders to re–inflate my ego back to a more typical state!

I have been walking on Cloud 9 all week, despite running myself ragged a couple days (12–hour days are not my friend when commuting 8km each direction cycling). I have no idea if it shows, but I don’t care; I’m less paranoid about what others think of me and/or may judge me for. I am more comfortable & confident in my decisions, without second–guessing them. I am just all around more comfortable in my own skin1.

I can still revel in the autumnal bliss (at least until the sunset gets too early). I have no concerns going into the winter; let it come, let it try to keep me in. I’ll show it how to enjoy a winter in a new city!

Jesus, I hope that all didn’t sound ridiculously emo, hahaha…

1Ignoring the whole flabby skin bits from weight loss (carrying 60 extra pounds for 8 years has left its mark on my body), and frustrating back tension in my trapezius lately. I really should try to see a chiropractor or someone about the back tension once OHIP finally kicks in.

03. October 2013 · 2 comments · Categories: Random · Tags:

Despite having shed nearly 70lbs since New Year’s, it’s been difficult to appreciate what sort of a transformation it has really had on me. I continue to look in the mirror and still see hanging bits of flesh and poorly defined body features. Complicated by the time frame this has occurred over, things have not been readily obvious visually.

I had gone down almost two shirt sizes, and gone from not quite fitting into a belt to now almost needing another (~5″ if not more) because it’s as tight as it can go. People have remarked how obvious it is to them, but somehow it continued to remain elusive to myself visually. At least, until today.

Last night’s inadvertant auto pep talk left me riding a bit of a confidence high. I’ve never been one to take “selfies” as they’re called1, but I felt I should this morning, and so did. Give myself a more current avatar for some social media streams. I pretty promptly felt happy with it, and replaced my previous Facebook profile picture.

Then it hit me.

I finally saw a (significant) difference. Holy hell. That was even before my heaviest at the end of December; I was probably hovering around 245–250lbs. Just seeing the difference around my cheeks and neck was a bit shocking. I still have a bit of double–chin action going on, but that — much like the rest of my body — is still due in part to carrying around so much extra weight for over a decade.

I won’t say I’m totally convinced I’m looking great, but I’ll definitely buy into how much better I (theoretically) look2.

Today was a (mostly) solid day of confidence. Let’s keep this ball rolling, folks…

1I worry that they come off as conceited. I feel like I’ve had such rare reinforcement that I’m handsome/sexy/attractive/etc., I have a hard time believing as such. I think I detailed this somewhere else or another. I remember briefly talking about it with @katekowalski about it. Perhaps it was just a tweet, and not a blog post. Anyhoo. Social preconception expects men to vocally/visually compliment women; social preconception doesn’t seem to suggest the converse.
2I only say theoretically, ’cause I really still have no idea what is or isn’t considered attractive/good–looking in men, let alone how much of it I possess. Yes, yes, I know, it’s different for everyone, but that just makes it all the more complicated!