Grocery Store Wars – At My Most Chill

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What a summer this has been. Easily, without a doubt this has been the best summer of my life. For the first time, in possibly… ever, I felt and feel complete contentment. Lake Havasu & Phoenix kicked off the summer, with all of my best friends, and my new father in law.   Then, there was the big event. Marrying my best friend, and for the first time in my life, realizing a childhood dream come true. No, my dream was not to just get married. But, since I was 12 years old, and met Amanda… I wanted her to be my wife. What kid thinks of that? I have no idea… but I did, and July 25th, a dream came true for me. I get to officially call her my wife. It still seems so surreal, that this has all happened. But, maybe that’s what it feels like when your dreams come true.

The single greatest day of my life.

Last weekend, we took off to the Okanagan with two of my best friends, and their girls. There aren’t many things better than being in the OK to begin with… then add to that a couple days of winery after winery. Amazing.

Today, I finally had a chance to take a deep breath, and relax with zero plans. EXCEPT! Go grocery shopping. Which brings us together today. Now to most people… This probably seems like an arduous and miserable task, and for me majority of the time it is. I hate going to Costco, I hate going to Safeway, I despise walking into a Superstore and Co-op doesn’t do much for me either.

Safeway, I can’t stand the lighting, and their colors. Completely brutal. You’d have to pay me $200 an hour to wear that sand brown dress shirt with that apron. Then, there is their overpriced…everything. But, we’re going to keep cost out of this today. We talkin’ grocery store intangibles.

Let’s move to Costco… Don’t get me wrong, Costco is great, products incredible, even moreso if you’re buying for a colony, the quantity in which product is packed is something else. I can think of a few pals that thought buying condoms at Costco would last them a summer… This was 2006; pretty sure the box hasn’t seen much of a dent. Should have gone to 7-11 for those.

Costco would be so much more enjoyable, if I could just rent it for an hour and shop solely by myself, and ensure all the food sample people are going, and every time I turn the corner to another red stand with a conventional over, that bagel bite is fresh out of the oven. Too many times I go to Costco, see a lady cooking up chicken wings, fight through all the shopping carts and grapefruit stands to get to these honey garlic wings, and… Well shit, she just threw them in. Come on. Off to the next one… Oh, nope. Some eight year old shorter than the red-aproned stand came in and swiped the rest of the Dixie cups. Bastard. Though, I can’t get mad. That used to be me. I get it. Today, I’ll just fucking starve kid. You prick. Then, once my cart is filled to the brim, and overflowing with cat litter, dog food, cat food, and beef jerky…. I must find the magic lineup. Well, all these lineups are at least 45 carts long. Whatever. Pick this one. I’ll be back. Going piss, and to get a hot dog with fries. Speaking of fries… they don’t even label what jar is salt and pepper! I put fucking hot cocoa powder all over my fries last time. WHO THE HELL HAS HOT COCOA MIXED IN WITH THE KETCHUP, MUSTARD AND SHIT. ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE. Thanks for the cocoa fries. How hard is it to put, S, P and Cocoa Dust on the shakers. I hate you Costco, and all the people that crowd up the vegetable aisle, and just leave their carts in the middle of the road. Costco seriously needs aisle lights, or you need to have a license to operate a cart there. UGH.

Ok. Well that got ugly… What do we have left? Superstore? Well… I trust you’ve been to a superstore, so I won’t even dignify it with detailed conversation. I feel like I am buying my groceries from a third or fourth hand consignment store when I am there.

That brings us to Co-op… You know what, I shouldn’t be that hard on Co-op. The meats are great there, and I think it’s marginally better priced than Safeway. Again, the colors, and the ambiance doesn’t necessarily thrill me, but neither does it being me to a sixty minute violent stomach flu like Safeyway does. Co-Op loses on poor stigma. It brings me back to the hideous co-op in Vegreville that my mom used to torment me to go with her to. Good grief, I hated that place. So Co-Op… Sorry, you never even had a chance.

Alright. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. Save on Foods. Now, previous to moving to Mahogany in SE Calgary, never even really thought about SOF. I don’t think one existed in Calgary at the time. I recall visiting one in Edmonton, but it was just another grocery store, and I was possibly to young to appreciate it. Or, Mom wouldn’t let me buy the damn peach YOP so I hated it. Well, we moved to SE Calgary almost two years ago. In my hunt of nearby amenities, and resources I found a Save on Foods in Seton. Hmm. Never been let’s try it.

Right off the bat, we hit it off. The building was beautiful, the area looks like some modern day space shuttle take off thingy kind of place, with sick lights in the evening that change color. Then there is the parking; this is where the other places generally blow it right off the bat. Costco…they might as well have a C Train that drops you off at the lady pretending to check your Costco card. SOF… Parking everywhere! Never once an issue. After you park, what’s next… Carts. Well, Don’t need to worry about if I have a loonie, or a quarter on me. I’m just going to grab a nice green cart. Meanwhile, at Safeway, never know if you’re going to need a penny, or a red bill to unlock one of those. I have NEVER understood that concept. The carts at SOF, they are always mint. Wheels work, never dirty, never garbage in them from the previous operator. Safeway… Complete shit. I’ll compare SOF Carts to a brand new Ford, while the Safeway carts are more like a 76’ Chevette. Costco carts… Well, that’s a 15 man econoline van. Good luck.

Now that we’ve parked, and we’ve grabbed our luxurious carts, lets indulge into what has become one of most relaxing, enjoyable experiences of my life. Perhaps this has come with age, and marriage. But, I honest to gracious enjoy very few things more than I do that going to Save On Foods in the late morning of a weekend. I actually look forward to it. Like a kid on Christmas Eve. Perhaps, It’s so enjoyable because it’s often just quiet, me time. But, the store facilitates all the things that I need to just… detox myself of everything poor in my life for ninety minutes, and that’s exactly what it does. It’s strange, and your judging me… I know. But, I am at my utmost chill at Save on Foods at 11:00am Saturday. I’ve always felt like this going there, but I’ve never really acknowledged it, or thought about it till today. Why in the fuck does this place completely wipe me clean, and mellow me out like some kind of hippie lost in the forest of Vancouver Island. It’s just so chill.

Some of the things I mentioned I hated at SOF competitors.

  1. Colors. Everything is bright and pleasant at SOF, the uniforms are a bright green with white. The lighting is incredible; it’s the right amount of illumination, without being blinded, or feeling like you’re entering the dungeons of Safeway.
  1. The staff. They are not overbearing, and they are not everywhere. However, they are always doing their jobs, easy to find, and willing to assist you if you need.
  1. The Sounds. I go to a pub, and I couldn’t tell you three hours later the kind of music they played, maybe because I wasn’t listening for it, or possibly it was too quiet. Either way. It’s rarely atop of mind. At SOF, the music there is always great. They play music that’s well known, but not overplayed. They play music from various eras, so guaranteed every single person in there will enjoy at least three songs while enduring a shopping trip. They play it at the right volume. It’s loud enough to drown out any possibly painful conversation around, and just perfect enough for you to enjoy the song. It’s quiet enough you can hear yourself think enough to choose what hot sauce you want, and you can hear the man at frozen meat counter ask “is that all”.
  1. The People. I mentioned the staff; phenomenal. But, for some reason the other people there seem to be in the same state as my, shopping for peeled shrimp, completely relaxed. They too, are quiet, relaxed it seems, and hardly annoying, or difficult. I often wonder if SOF has a 21+ rule or something, because never see any hoodlums, or screaming kids in there. Nothing annoys me more than humans, and I’ve never once been irritated by people at SOF.
  1. Space. The aisles are gifted with enough width, and length that never seems overcrowded, or busy there. There is just the right amount of aisles, they are lableled, and organized enough, you’re always able to find even the most obscure things the wife puts on the list… like dry Swiffer pads.
  1. Cleanliness. I remember working my first ever job at Extra Foods in Vegreville, and I hated it. We’d spend hours a week just bringing boxes of rice a roni to the front of the shelf. I always thought this was trivial, absurd and painful. But… Now, as I enter the shoes of a consumer, it’s extremely helpful and I totally get it. Save on Foods must have 24-7 invincible robots doing this, because the shelves NEVER appear empty. EVER. Very organized, and very clean. All of the time. Most grocery stores I feel like after I touch something I need to douse myself in sanitizer, not here.   Then, there is the floor… Superstore gets an F in this regard, SOF get’s another A+, the floors are always glistening. Literally, glistening. I don’t understand how they do it.
  1. The sausage selection at the meat counter. Incredible variety. Chipotle. Maple. Jalapeno. Lime. Ginger. Spinach & Feta. Italian. Texas. Smoked… On and On…

I could honestly go on and on about the 31 wonders of this facility, but I will end up writing six pages on grocery stores. OH ya!

  1. Rarely ever a lineup, and always the right amount of tills opened.

I’m sure you’re thinking I am completely wacked, or maybe have even lost my mind in my two weeks of marriage, but this is the honest to God truth. I freaking love Save on Foods. It’s magical for me. Like Disneyland for you, it’s a place of pure, complete relaxation for me. A place to getaway.

…. And I don’t even cook, clean or use half the shit I buy.

I’ll Have a Caramel Machiatto – A Personal Compromise

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Going to try something a little different tonight.  Usually when I write, There is something really pushes me to sit down and put something together, usually, I know its going to be one of those creative-therapeutic word-nights by the afternoon, and I generally put something together later in the evening.  Meanwhile, amidst this process, I light some candles, and turn on whatever Matt Good CD is of choice for the night, and I sit there, sometimes I pop a light beer, and I see what I can come up with.  There really is no science too it; if you’re wondering.  However, tonight, there was really nothing poking me to get up and write something, and I decided to put in something different than a MG CD.  My mom was kind enough to give me my sister’s CD book, which is one of my greatest treasures.  I know its something that meant a lot to her. Music has always been a really big thing with our family, especially the 3 of us.  But, I thought, hell, lets just grab a random blank CD out of here and listen to one of her burnt CDs.  It was really cool when I put it in, and the first song played.  Not really expecting much, it really just resonated with me. I could feel Jen; this was her music, a CD that SHE put together… It was almost like it was her on the burnt CD.  It was… one of those weird, yet good moments that I have with her.  There are times where I just know she is with me.  Whether, I am in trouble somewhere, or can’t figure something out, and all of the sudden, things just click… And, it’s so weird, but you just know.  You can feel it.

A few times in the past, In just going through my day, I will hear someone say something nearby, and I swear its her voice.  There are times where it’s actually quite eerie. These things, I never ever forget… It’s probably happened 4 or 5 times in the 4 years where I know I have heard her voice, and I remember every single time like it was yesterday, cause I know it was her just saying, What’s up kid.

When these eerie moments happen, like when I put on this burnt CD… It’s weird; It’s a bittersweet thing.  Its immediately devastating… but, then I always find my mind and my body just kind of stop, and I soak it in…  and it leaves you with on those can’t-stop-grins.  Though, these oddities are rare, I do certainly relish every one of them.  Same thing when I dream about her… I don’t often, but I can remember every single dream. Every one.  And, in every one of them, I can see Jen. Perfectly. She looks the same as I remember – beautiful. And, she is always smiling – always. I know this is her telling me she’s okay now. She’s good. And we don’t have to be sad anymore.  Though, we try. It’s hard. And I think that this is why she doesn’t do this to me often, cause she knows how difficult it is sometimes.

But, every night I do dream about her.  I have the best day. I wake up with the biggest smile, cause I know that in the only way possible, I just hung out with my big sister again. Which, is something I miss more than you can imagine.  Seriously.  Like I said, it’s really one of those weird things, I can’t explain it.  I am a million times happy, and sad at the same time.  There will be nights too, where I can’t sleep so I just talk to her, and ask her to come into my dreams, so I can see her again… Sometimes it happens, sometimes not.  But, I will lay there and think about her as much as I can and hope that she comes.  I miss her.  A lot.

I know that this was supposed to get easier with time, and sometimes I think that it has, but there will be nights where something reminds me of Jen, a song, a picture… whatever, and I just miss her more than I would maybe, any other night. Or sometimes, maybe even nothing ever happened but there are just  nights where you can hear her, see her, feel her…  And, you just really miss her.  Tough nights.  Sometimes when I am going through one of those evenings… I wonder, when I am 35 years old, is this still going to happen, or is it going to occur less… How does this work?

Sometimes I wish there was a real owners guide to overcoming a loss like this.  I guess there a million books, but they all the same, and I can read as many of them as I want, and while I will agree with most, or some of the excerpts… It never truly heals anything. I don’t even know if it is supposed too.  I just know, I really miss her…a lot.  And, that empty feeling in my gut that I have from missing her so much, maybe that will never go away and I will always feel that.  I don’t know.  I just hope the dreams, and the moments I can feel her, never go away, because at least now… I feel like I still have something. Sometimes.

 ———

I do wish that my writings would be more frequent, as opposed to writing once every couple of weeks.  I would like to make this a much more consistent effort.  I am finally getting back in touch with, what is probably the most effective means of therapy for myself.  I used to write a tonne when I was younger, but I kind of lost it over the years.  I don’t know, I guess it wasn’t cool to “write”… Is it now?

I just am really happy that I have gotten back in touch with writing; I think it has probably saved me many a night.  When you struggle with mental illness, you need to find a few things that you can resort too when you are having a shit day.  A day where you just feel like, you’re really just losing the fucking battle, and nothing is going right.  You have to try your best to just have what I call – defense weapons.  (I like to use fighting metaphors…Sooooooo) to get you through the days where you really, literally only want to get through the day, sometimes when you fight a mental illness, going to sleep and waking up to a new day is sometimes a victory.  It really is.  Because, there are times where it is that damn bad.  And, you can’t leave your house, that is, if you can even get out of bed.  For me, I have a couple of things that I resort too…  Obviously this blog has really become that for me, along with pretty well anything hockey.  Those are my escapes.  But, even then, sometimes your days are so shitty, that you can’t even make it to these escapes… These are the days where you just hope to hell to see another sun rise, and make it. You’ll have these days too, I do. I think once you accept that you suffer from a mental illness – that being the initial, biggest success  – but from then on in, its about limiting those days where a victory is just making it through.  Maybe you’ll never truly eliminate those days, cause who knows. Sometimes I feel like it’s an endless fight, but, when you can limit those days as much as possible… you’re hanging in there.  Trust me. And, at times… hanging in there… that’s ok.

goneawayboys has served me well in a variety of ways.   First and foremost, it has been completely therapeutic for me, and is something that truly makes me feel quite good.  Every time I click submit and I watch people view my posts, and comment, follow, like or whatever other term social media has coined as “approval”.  It is an awesome, awesome feeling. And dammit, do I thank everyone of you that do that.  You seriously have no idea how much that means too me, It gives me one of those can’t-stop-grins.

As much as I like to write this blog to hopefully help others, and I hope that I am.  It is ultimately too, like I said; get me through those days where I am losing the fucking battle.  Big time.  I think this blog has too become somewhat of a personal compromise.

Any one that is fortunate, and blessed enough to know me on a personal level 😉 knows that I am a pretty quiet fellow, I don’t say much, especially in regards to my feelings, my personal life and past.  I don’t even like the word feelings. I don’t talk about much of anything – ever. But, I think that this has ultimately led to me absolutely falling apart, or at least it was a significant contribution.  For 10 years, I have been fighting depression, and I haven’t said boo about it.  I’d take my pills that the doctor prescribed me.  And, that’s it. I’d take them, I didn’t know why I would be taking them, and I don’t even think they worked.  It was a robotic process.  Meanwhile, I would take these pills and carry on my day like nothing, like an absolute robot again. I’d never talk about anything.  Even if I was feeling completely fucked up. I wouldn’t say a word to anyone.  We weren’t supposed too, I thought.  Isn’t that the thing about mental illness? Hush Hush – pussy.  So, I never did. I continued to throw everything back into a mental clusterfuck… and deep down, I think I knew that this was a bad idea, and eventually would probably boil over and explode, and in turn something bad was likely going to happen.  I didn’t know what. But, it hadn’t happened then, so as far I was concerned… It wasn’t going too.  Or, at the least, I would cross that bridge when I arrived.  As if I was expecting that I’d have time, and I’d see a collapse coming.  Well, maybe I did see it coming… But, I know what I told myself…. I’ll be fine. Fuck off.  We’re ok.

Well, it was damn close, and I wasn’t okay. That was one of the hardest things, having to admit… I was not OK anymore. At all.

I am not sure if I should be impressed that my way of dealing with things lasted 10 years, or if I should consider myself damn lucky that I had someone kick me in the teeth and allow me to get my shit together when I hit rock bottom after 10 years, before it was too late… ultimately, allowing me to even tell you about this.  Thanks Jen. Everyone was right.  The more shit you keep in, and refuse to talk about… You’re going to fall apart.  And, I did just that.  And, no.  You’re wrong.  You don’t see it coming, and trust me… You won’t.

Although, I will admit I still am a little hesitant to openly discuss my fight with depression, for now, even though I am an advocate for speaking out about it… It’s hard. It’s not something that happens over night, but I do think I am certainly getting better at talking about it personally.  But, this blog, is a place where I can write these things down, then show everyone, and tell everyone.  Although its not the setting of a coffee-shop conversation.  To me, it’s a personal compromise and a stepping-stone to achieving my ultimate goal of being able to freely have a coffee shop conversation about my depression, and your’s too.

One day we’ll get there, and when we do… I’ll have a Caramel Macchiato.

I can’t write love songs when I’m on these things
I’m affable, responsible, but hard to be around
It’s correctible and they’re right you know
It’s as easy as it sounds
It’s all as easy as it sounds

– A Single Explosion –

Matthew Good

– Blair