Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The End. The Beginning.

I sat on this post for a while. No wonder. It was a tough one to write.

Several weeks ago, H. and I broke up. More accurately, I made an anguished decision to move out after a number of failed attempts to change the increasingly unhappy status quo.

Leading to the break-up, I discovered serious and upsetting secrets that festered for years. He abused my trust and acted dishonorably. Sporadic arguments and acts of disrespect that I thought were just rough patches experienced by every couple from time to time turned out to be manifestations of deeper problems. Unfortunately, honesty was the preferred policy only on my part.

In short, the trust was broken. It was beyond repair. Somewhere, our paths diverged, and we became very different people. Or perhaps, we were never the same, and time just revealed the reality. I can compromise on certain qualities, but integrity and human decency are not among them.

Now, after almost 5 years, I am officially single. In a couple of weeks, Drake and I will move out and start a new life. I will soon turn 33 - not a birthday I had imagined. This relationship was a big part of me, and now I'm getting used to living without it. It will take time.

In the beginning of September I will still travel to Greece and Amsterdam. This will be my own version of a eat-pray-love journey. It will give me a chance to get away from it all, breathe, think and reconsider my long-term goals. New opportunities are calling. I am grateful for everything I have, and my family and friends have been absolutely brilliant in their support.

I will return to regular blogging in due time. One of my considerations was to shut down this blog and start a new one, but then I decided against it. A lot of effort has been invested in TFG. Why should I give it up?

A Greek proverb says:  Για τον εχθρό που φεύγει, φτιάξε χρυσό γεφύρι. For an enemy who leaves, build a golden bridge.

This is not the end, just a new beginning.

Friday, June 27, 2014

When Wheels Really Come Off

Another crazy gym story for ya fresh off the press.

Yesterday I took my usual Thursday night spinning class. It's 60 minutes long and rather arduous. We were in the last 10 minutes of the class doing sprints. It's that time at the end when you're pooped, and the instructor gives you the spiel about "blocking out everything and reaching into your hidden reserves".

Right at this point, a girl barges in the spin room, dressed as a gym version of Lara Croft: tiny hot pants, bare stomach, boobs heaping out of a top a size too small. She starts setting up a spare bike, and we all stare at her in the mirror. The instructor walks over to her and quietly points out there's a class in progress, about to finish, after which she'd be welcome to do her thing, but at that moment she cannot come in.

The girl resists. The instructor says firmly that she is distracting the class and asks her to leave again, all very politely. The girl argues back that she needs to "warm up". (Oh, by the way, there are tonnes of various cardio machines on the main gym floor, including other spinning bikes, in case you're wondering. Also, I remind you, we only had like 7 minutes left to the end.)

This could not continue. Valuable time was being wasted. The instructor gave her his final: "Please leave" and returned to his bike.


Everyone's jaw just dropped at such insolence, selfishness and lack of respect for the other 25 people in the class. It was so un-Canadian. And for what? For a 5 minute warm up that could be done in a million other ways without creating this ridiculous incident!!

The otherwise super-relaxed instructor lost his cool. He leaped out of his bike, ran to the door and shouted: "Do you mind???!!!! I have a class going on here!!!". He's a muscular guy, but I swear, at that moment I was not sure if the chick wouldn't punch him in the face if he had attempted to stop her. For a second, I thought I was back in Soviet Ukraine, the bike was the last bottle of milk left in the store, and she was an angry customer trying to beat others to it. So, she DID end up moving the bike out, after which we finished the sprints and the class ended.

The gym management was called. My fellow spinners exchanged witty remarks about "a tad too many steroids". Some people looked really outraged at what had just transpired. I wondered what was next. When someone takes a bike from underneath you while you're spinning? I don't know. All I know is when you resort to this behaviour for a 5-minute "warm-up", you've got bigger issues to deal with than just your personal fitness.

Toronto instructors beware: there's a monster on the loose and your class can be next :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Whoa. I have not written on this blog for whole 23 days.

Admittedly, the last couple of weeks took a toll on me mentally and physically. There were numerous pressures at work and at home, and I was taking time to decompress in the usual ways: gym, the doggie, shopping and travel planning.

The other Sunday, for example, I did the unthinkable: stayed in my pajamas till 4 pm and did not go outside beyond taking Drake for a two-minute pee. That said, it was an exception. With beautiful days outside, I try not to get stuck indoors.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Real Summer (and the Elections!)

It's the elections day in Ukraine, and the national exit polls are handing the victory over to Petro Poroshenko. He has reportedly won by over 55%. This signifies several things:

-  Ukrainians have probably elected the new president in the first round. If the polls are right, there is no need for the run-off round on June 15.
-  There is a new president elected by the people in a fair democratic vote, which is an amazing reflection of national unity and desire for peace, law and order.
-  On a more personal level, I am not required to make a choice whether to join the Canadian elections observation mission for which I qualified last week.

I was touched by this photo from a polling station in Kyiv. How old and fragile some of the voters are, yet they lined up for a long time to exercise their democratic right.

Reportedly, many voters dressed up in traditional clothes to display their patriotism (or painted their nails blue and yellow!!) and brought their children along.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Fresh Crazy Gym Story

You may know that I collect crazy gym stories. Here's a fresh one.

The other week, a lady caught me in the showers and asked to check if I accidentally took her towel. Her locker was next to mine, and all towels look the same. Sure thing, I did go back and checked.

It turned out I did not have her towel. She appeared puzzled, so I helped her to look for it. After a minute or so, I asked her how many towels she had, because all this time she was wrapped in one.

"Just one", she replied.

Curtain falls, the show is over :)

Today the same lady was fiddling forever with a combination lock but did not manage to open it. Then she exclaimed "This is not my locker!!".

I almost asked her if at least she had a fresh towel.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Staying on the Greek Theme...

When I go to the gym on Saturdays, I need something for a good post-work out snack. I usually bring some chocolate protein powder dissolved in skimmed milk on ice - a tasty concoction that keeps cold for a couple of hours.

I found that soon after I also often crave a second coffee of the day with something starchy. I often hang around the downtown for a bit to shop or go to my massage and after succumbing to a Starbucks muffin once (really not worth the calories), I decided to break my older rule not to freeze any baked goodies. Now, I bake something healthy from time to time and freeze most of the output for my Saturday gym visits and weekday breakfasts.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Asparagus and Travel Plans

Is there anything more perfect as a springtime lunch than a large juicy egg over steamed asparagus and sautéed onions?

I think not. Served with just a touch of freshly grated Parmesan, pepper and salt, and a toasted bread bun on the side:

This was the culinary highlight of my long weekend. I love asparagus and I love eggs, and asparagus is now in season.